Yankees-Twins Preview: ALDS Rematch Could Be ALDS Preview

May 14, 2010   ·     ·   Jump to comments
Article Source: Bleacher Report - New York Yankees

In the midst of their worst offensive slump of the season and having loss four of five, the Yankees return home to open up a seven-game, three-team homestand against the American League Central-leading Minnesota Twins.

The Yanks and Twins enter their three-game set with identical 22-12 records, good for second best in the Majors behind the Rays and tied with the Padres.

Like New York, Minnesota has done it with a mix of good hitting and solid pitching. The Twins lead the AL with a .277 batting average and are second with a 3.51 ERA.

But the Bombers have dominated the Twins of late, winning all 10 meetings last year, including a three-game sweep in the AL Division Series, and Minnesota has dropped eight straight in the Bronx.

Let’s take a look at the pitching matchups.

Friday, May 14—A.J. Burnett (4-1, 3.40) vs. Scott Baker (4-2, 4.57)

Burnett allowed almost as many earned runs in his last start against the Red Sox (eight) as he did in his first six games combined (nine).

After his worst appearance of the season, the right-hander will look to bounce versus the Twins, a team against which he is 2-1 with a 3.72 ERA in six career starts.

Jim Thome (7-for-30, .233, 11 K’s), Michael Cuddyer (2-for-13, .154, 6 K’s), Brendan Harris (2-for-12, .167) and Nick Punto (1-for-11, .091) all struggle when facing Burnett.

Not surprisingly, Joe Mauer (5-for-13, .385) does not.

Baker is coming off back-to-back wins over the Tigers and Orioles, and while he is 2-1 with a 4.20 ERA in three lifetime starts against the Yankees (1-0, 1.80 in the Bronx), the current Bombers lineup hits .319 and slugs .623 off him.

Marcus Thames is batting just .231 against righties this year, but he has to be in the lineup on Friday because he’s 8-for-26 (.308) with four homers and six RBIs versus Baker.

Mark Teixeira is also 4-for-7 (.571) with a homer, but Alex Rodriguez is 0-for-7 with four strikeouts.


Saturday, May 15—Andy Pettitte (4-0, 2.08) vs. Francisco Liriano (4-1, 2.36)

Pettitte returns from his overly-cautious, one-start removal from the rotation and hopefully the long layoff won’t affect the great start he’s had.

The veteran southpaw is 9-5 with a 3.70 ERA in 19 career starts against Minnesota, but the current Twins roster hits .358 off him.

Brendan Harris is 8-for-17 (.471), Cuddyer is 5-for-14 (.357) with a homer, Delmon Young is a ridiculous 9-for-14 (.643), and Mauer and Justin Morneau are each 4-for-10 (.400). Thome, however, is 6-for-28 (.214) with 10 K’s.

Liriano suffered his first loss of the season on Saturday, surrendering five runs on 10 hits over six innings versus Baltimore.

The left-hander is 0-1 with a 2.77 ERA in three games (two starts) against New York, and he gave up one run in six frames in his only appearance at Yankee Stadium.

Facing Liriano, Teixeira is 1-for-9 (.111) with an incredible seven strikeouts, but that one hit was a home run.

Thames is an easy start in this one as he is 4-for-9 with three homers against the southpaw.


Sunday, May 16—Sergio Mitre (0-1, 3.86) vs. Nick Blackburn (3-1, 4.76)

As of Friday afternoon, the Yankees haven’t announced a starter for Sunday, but it will probably be Mitre thanks to a rainout-induced doubleheader on Wednesday that would force either Javier Vazquez or Phil Hughes to work on short rest if they were to start on Sunday.

I’d prefer Hughes on three-days’ rest over Mitre on steroids, but Joe Girardi probably isn’t going to want to push the young right-hander too hard in his first full season as a starter.

As expected, Mitre lasted just 4 1/3 innings and gave up four runs in a loss at Detroit on Monday.

He has never faced the Twins, but four men on their roster have batted against him. Orlando Hudson is 3-for-9 (.333) with a home run and Thome is 3-for-4 (.750) with a double, but Harris and Young are a combined 0-for-6.

After a rocky first four starts, Blackburn earned a complete-game win over the Tigers and followed that up with seven scoreless innings against the Orioles in another victory on Sunday.

The right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.89 ERA in four starts versus the Bombers, and he allowed four earned runs in 7 2/3 innings in his only start at the new Yankee Stadium last year.

A-Rod is 3-for-9 (.333) and a homer off Blackburn, Derek Jeter is 3-for-7 (.429) with a blast and Teixeira is a remarkable 6-for-6 with five RBIs and a walk. Robinson Cano, however, is 0-for-8.

Follow me on Twitter at JordanHarrison .

Jordan Schwartz is one of Bleacher Report’s New York Yankees and College Basketball Featured Columnists. His book Memoirs of the Unaccomplished Man is available at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and authorhouse.com.

Jordan can be reached at jordanschwartz2003@yahoo.com

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