Yankees Can’t Look Past Blue Jays

August 4, 2009   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

Everyone knows what’s coming up this weekend: a huge four-game set with the arch rival Boston Red Sox, a team that has beaten the Yankees all eight times they’ve met this season.

But before that battle for AL East supremacy, New York plays a mini two-game series against Roy Halladay and the Toronto Blue Jays.  Getting swept north of the border could not only drop the Yanks to second place behind Boston, but it would put the team into a bad state of mind heading into the showdown with the Red Sox.

Losing two in a row to the Jays is a real possibility because the Bombers face Halladay in the opener and send their fifth starter, Sergio Mitre, to the mound in the finale.

Let’s examine the pitching matchups.


Tuesday, Aug. 4 – Andy Pettitte (8-6, 4.51) vs. Roy Halladay (11-4, 2.68)

The Yankees were probably hoping Halladay would be traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, so they wouldn’t have to face him this week, but New York should just be happy its seeing him tonight and not this weekend.

Everyone knows how much the Pinstripes struggle against Toronto’s ace.  He’s 16-5 with a 2.90 ERA in 32 lifetime starts against them, but they touched him up for five runs over seven innings during a walk-off victory on July 4.

Nine different Yankee hitters have faced Doc more than 20 times in their careers, but only Johnny Damon (.349) and Alex Rodriguez (.303) are batting over .300 against him.

Expect Eric Hinske (6 for 24) to get the start in right field over Nick Swisher (2 for 14) and Jerry Hairston Jr. (2 for 18).

Andy Pettitte, meanwhile, is coming off of a solid 6.1 inning effort at Chicago, during which he gave up one earned run on five hits, while striking out eight and walking no one.

But the lefty has been inconsistent this season and was lit up for six runs in six innings the last time he faced the Blue Jays on July 6.  He’s a good, but not great, 18-12 with a 4.25 ERA in 37 career starts against the team from Canada, but a much more impressive 13-5, 3.92 at Rogers Centre, where all of his ground balls get true hops.

Vernon Wells (.390), John McDonald (.333), Alex Rios (.333) and Jose Bautista (.333) all have at least seven hits in at least 21 at bats against Pettitte, but the southpaw has been able to tame Lyle Overbay (2 for 24) and Aaron Hill (3 for 17).

Prediction: Blue Jays 4, Yankees 3


Wednesday, Aug. 5 – Sergio Mitre (1-0, 7.90) vs. Marc Rzepczynski (1-2, 3.95)

As expected, Mitre has been a bust since being called up to replace the injured Chien-Ming Wang.  In three starts, he’s failed to escape the sixth inning and has racked up a disgusting 1.98 WHIP.

Some thought the 28-year-old would be a serviceable option at the back end of the rotation because he was 3-1 with a 2.40 ERA in seven starts at Triple-A Scranton this year, but the majors are a whole different story. 

Just ask Kei Igawa. 

Mitre is now 11-23 with a 5.47 ERA in the big leagues, which leaves me wondering why the Yankees didn’t pick up another starter at the trade deadline and why the organization is considering taking Joba Chamberlain out of the rotation when he reaches 150 innings. 

At least Joe Girardi was smart enough to switch the starters around to make sure Mitre didn’t pitch against Boston.

The right-hander has only faced Toronto once, surrendering just two hits and one walk over seven shutout innings.  But that was back on June 8, 2005, when Mitre was with the Chicago Cubs.  Only five players on the Blue Jays roster have at-bats against the Yankee pitcher.

Rzepczynski was called up from Triple-A for the first time on July 7 and has pitched well over five starts.  His most impressive outing was on July 18 against the Red Sox, when he gave up just one run in six innings for the win.

The 23-year-old has never faced anyone on the Yankees, but he is left-handed, which is good news for New York because the team leads the league with a .295 average against southpaws.

Prediction: Yankees 6, Blue Jays 5


Follow me on Twitter at JordanHarrison.

Jordan Schwartz is Bleacher Report’s New York Yankees Community Leader. His book “Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man” is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.

Jordan can be reached at jordanschwartz2003@yahoo.

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