Last night, the Yankees put together one of their best hitting performances of the 2011 season. After going 2 for 15 with runners in scoring position the night before, the Yanks upped the ante by going 6 for 13 last night, a 329 point jump in average from the previous night. The Yankees ability to capitalize was also shown on the box score. Driving in thirteen runs on fourteen hits is a far cry from the four runs on fifteen hits they put together in the endless fifteen inning game the night before.
CC Sabathia put together, arguably, his best start of the year last night. The big left-hander shutout the Orioles for eight innings, striking out nine batters, scattering seven hits, and not allowing a single walk. CC was brilliant as he attacked the strike zone unmercifully by throwing a remarkable 84 strikes on 109 pitches, resulting in a 77% strike rate. With the win, Sabathia now has a stunning 16-2 lifetime record against Baltimore.
Brad Bergesen, the Orioles starter, working on only four days rest, got absolutely shelled by the Yankee lineup. After throwing a complete game shutout at Tampa last weekend and looking like he turned a corner professionally, he went diving back in the other direction last night. Bergesen was not able to make it out of the 4th inning as he surrendered eight runs on five hits and walked three batters. The loss drops Bergesen to 1-5.
As the Mets travel across town for the first game of this years Subway Series both teams will throw right-handers who scuffled a little bit in their last starts. The Yankees will throw right-hander Freddy Garcia (2-3, 3.22) who has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees so far this year. Freddy, however, is coming off arguably his worst start of the season. Freddy lasted only 5.1 innings and allowed four earned runs last Sunday as the Yankees were swept by the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium for the first time in seven years.
In only two career starts against the Mets, Garcia has good numbers. He enters tonight with a career 1-1 record against the "Amazin's" with an ERA of 2.63 and one complete game.
The Mets will counter with their knuckle-balling righty R.A. Dickey. After a stellar 2010 campaign in which he won eleven games and posted an ERA below three, Dickey is not nearly pitching on the level he was a year ago. So far in 2011, Dickey is 1-5 with an ERA up over five. He was shelled by the Astros last Saturday as he surrendered six runs in 5.1 innings.
However, Dickey does have good lifetime numbers against the Yankees. He is 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA in seven career appearances, however, he has only started once against the men in pinstripes. Dickey has also yet to allow a run at Yankee Stadium (new and old) in 8.2 innings pitched.
Yankees X-Factor: SS Derek Jeter
It was a tough decision here between the captain and A-Rod, but I think Jeter will play a bigger role tonight than Rodriguez. With Jeter's current struggles at the plate, seeing Met pitching could come as a relief for the man John Sterling calls "El Capìtan". Although Jeter is only 1-8 lifetime against Dickey, Jeter has a .380 career average against the Mets, the highest mark for all active players. If Jeter can get on early and often against Dickey, Derek can help cause havoc on the base paths against Dickey and his knuckleball.
Mets X-Factor: RF Carlos Beltran
It is hard to believe, but Beltran has gotten off to a torrid start here in 2011 and has shown why he, at times, has been considered one of the best all-around players in baseball. Beltran not only hits well against the Yankees, (.290 lifetime vs. NYY, .297 at Yankee Stadium) but he absolutely owns Freddy Garcia. Carlos enters tonight hitting .452 (14-31) lifetime against Freddy, with three home runs and ten runs driven in. With that short porch in right, Beltran could have himself a big night in the Bronx. Also, this series could prove to be a tryout of sorts for Beltran. With rumors rampant about the outfielder being on the trading block with his contract up at the end of the season, an impressive series in the Bronx could convince the Yankees to make a deal for the switch-hitting outfielder who would certainly help this struggling Yankee lineup.
Key to the Game: Mets SP R.A. Dickey
Dickey has been a train wreck so far in May. He is 0-2 with an ERA of 7.36 and his job will not get easier tonight as he faces a stacked (yet struggling) Yankee lineup. The Mets cannot afford Dickey to surrender 6+ runs again tonight. If Dickey can keep the ball down and keep the Yankee hitters off balance with his knuckleball the Mets should be able to cause some trouble for the Yankees tonight. However, if Dickey leaves his pitches up and over the plate, this game could be out of reach for the boys from Flushing mighty quick.
Last night, Yankees C Jorge Posada made his first appearance at first base since July 3rd of last year...The Yankees enter tonight with a three game win streak, the Mets have won their last two...The Yankees and the Mets split the season series last year, 3-3...The Yankees lead the all-time series, 45-33.