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Series Preview: New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers

Bronx Baseball DailySenior Analyst IMay 10, 2010

DETROIT - MAY 10:  Johnny Damon #18 of the Detroit Tigers hits a solo home run in the fifth inning to give the Tigers a 4-2 lead over the New York Yankees during the game on May 10, 2010 at Comerica Park in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

The theme of the series with the Tigers? Old faces in new places.

The New York Yankees (21-9) are headed to Detroit to play a four game series with the Tigers (17-14) to start off this week. 

As I’m sure everyone already knows, three former Yankees currently call Comerica Park home. Tigers’ left fielder Johnny Damon, center fielder Austin Jackson, and relief pitcher Phil Coke were all a part of the Yankee organization last season.  All three of them have gotten off to good starts with their new team.

Ajax is off to a smoking hot start with a triple slash of .371/.420/.508.  He’s scored a team leading 24 runs, has three triples, one homer, nine RBI, and six stolen bases.  Detroit has to be beyond pleased with his production thus far.

Damon is doing what he’s done his entire career, hitting .294/.409/.431.  He has a team leading 21 walks and is right behind Jackson with 24 runs scored.  No longer at the lefty friendly Yankee Stadium, Damon only has one home run so far this season.

Lastly, Phil Coke is off to a great start in the bullpen for the Tigers.  In 15.1 innings, he has a 1.76 ERA and 12 strikeouts.

In the non-former Yankees department, Miguel Cabrera is having one heck of a season so far.  He’s batting .371 with seven home runs and a league leading 33 RBI.

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On the other side of the spectrum, let’s just say Detroit’s starting pitching has been a bit shaky this season.  It’s never comforting when Dontrelle Willis has been your most consistent pitcher; he sports a 1-1 record with a 3.99 ERA.  Ace of the staff Justin Verlander had a bad string of starts to begin the season, but his past three outings have showed improvement.

Probable Starters

RHP Sergio Mitre (0-0, 2.79) vs. LHP Brad Thomas (1-0, 5.40)

RHP Javier Vazquez (1-3, 9.78) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (2-3, 7.50)

RHP Phil Hughes (4-0, 1.69) vs. RHP Jeremy Bonderman (1-1, 5.74)

LHP CC Sabathia (4-1, 3.04) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (3-2, 4.50)

Notes

  • Sergio Mitre is taking Andy Pettitte’s turn in the rotation because Andy was battling some inflammation after his last start.  He’s thrown well in limited action this season, so hopefully he keeps it up.  According to Mark Feinsand, Mitre will be on a 65-75 pitch limit .
  • Girardi skipped Vazquez’s last start because of how ineffective he’s been, so hopefully he made some progress with his mechanics during his bullpen sessions this past week.  He’s got to turn it around eventually, doesn’t he?
  • Did you know that Brett Gardner extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single on Sunday?  I don’t think the ESPN guys announced it, so there ya go.  I’m curious about this one, so let’s take a little poll.  Who will have a better four game series, Austin Jackson or Brett Gardner?
  • With Jorge Posada being deemed healthy, Girardi has a tough decision to make behind the plate.  Francisco Cervelli has been doing everything right for the Yankees, so it’s hard to take him out.  On Sunday, Posada DH’d while Cervelli donned the catcher’s gear.  If you ask me, splitting the starts at catcher and DH-ing Posada on other days is the best option right now for the club.
  • Randy Winn has strung together a couple of nice starts while Curtis Granderson has been out.  If he keeps this up, will he replace Marcus Thames against lefties?  Winn has shown that he can provide both offense and defense when in the game, and after another game in which Thames’ defense hurt the team, I think I’d rather have Winn in the field and Thames on the bench, even against lefties.

Yankees Keys to the Series

  • I know this can be said for any series, but starting pitching will be key.  Both teams have question marks all over the place for their starters in this series, so whoever gets more from their starters will most likely win this series.  Also, that Sabathia/Verlander match-up should be sweet, can’t wait.
  • Will Mark Teixeira continue mashing?  The Yankees will need to score runs against Detroit, so hopefully the middle of the lineup delivers.
  • Can Phil Hughes go 30-0?  Obviously not, but with the way he’s pitching right now, if he’s on his game the opposition doesn’t really stand a chance.

Expected Outcome

Put me down for another series win.  I’m more optimistic about Mitre than most, so I expect him to keep us in the game on Monday.  I also think that Vazquez is going to finally figure it out.  Hughes will finally lose (sorry everybody) and CC will out-duel Justin Verlander.

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