Blue Jays at Yankees Preview: To Pitch or Not to Pitch
By Ricky Keeler
Now, onto the three elements to look at in this series:
1. Jose Bonds? – Yes, Jose Bautista’s hot start to 2011 is starting to draw comparisons back to Barry Bonds’ hot start back in 2001 when he hit 73 home runs. Bautista is swinging a hot bat, so does Joe Girardi give him the Josh Hamilton treatment from the ALCS by taking the bat out of his hands? I would do so, because he has been the main source for their RBI production without Adam Lind in the lineup. After Batista’s 31 RBI’s, the second highest total with no Lind is 19 shared by Corey Patterson and young catcher J.P Arencibia. Bautista has three homers sgainst the Bombers this year, so it is time to predict when he hits a home run at Yankee Stadium by looking at the pitcher vs. batter comparisons.
- Vs. Bartolo Colon – 1-5, O HR’s, 2 K’s
- Vs. CC Sabathia – 0-11, 0 HR’s, 6 K’s – clearly the edge goes to Sabathia
- Vs. Freddy Garcia – 4-6, 2 HR’s, 3 RBI’s, 1 BB – Garcia has not strung together two consecutive solid starts since the beginning of the year, so if he does hit one, it will be in this game.
2. Jo-Jo on the Verge of History: Toronto, with the exception of the young Ricky Romero, is not throwing their best starters in this series. Jesse Litsch, who was supposed to start Monday’s game, was placed on the disabled list Friday with a shoulder injury. However, Wednesday’s starter, Jo-Jo Reyes, has not experienced victory for a long time. Let me explain. If Reyes does not beat the Yankees on Wednesday, he will tie the Major League record for the most consecutive starts without a win at 28 starts. He would match Oakland’s Mark Keough, who lost 28 straight from 1978-79. Reyes has made progress, especially in his last start against the Astros where he threw seven scoreless innings, but got a no decision. Wednesday is a day game, so expect the Yankee bats to explode offensively on that day. Nevertheless, you have to feel for a guy that has not win since June 13th, 2008.
3. A Steep Hill to Climb: Without Lind, the Blue Jays are still searching for a player to protect Bautista. Well, they are still searching, because second baseman Aaron Hill has not provided the power that a cleanup hitter has to have. The silver slugger from two years ago has not hit a home run in 128 at-bats after hitting 62 HR’s over the last two years. He is 9 for his last 28 since taking over in that spot, but Toronto needs him to drive in runners when teams pitch around Bautista. If it does not change, John Farrell could move Hill down in the lineup and slide up the young Arencibia, who has eight home runs on the season.
I usually do not predict sweeps, but I think the Yankees will sweep this series. They have the edge in all three pitching matchups, and the Blue Jays are coming off a series where they lost two of three to the lowly Houston Astros. With the way Colon and Sabathia have pitched of late, they will be tough to beat at home. On Wednesday, Garcia has a lot to prove, but after a great start on Friday, I think he will keep the momentum going. Keep an eye on Robinson Cano for the Yankees. Against the Blue Jays this year, Cano is 6-17 with 2 HR’s and 4 RBI’s. Also, for Tuesday’s game, Brett Gardner is 5-11 lifetime against Ricky Romero, who has a Johan Santana-like changeup. I expect the Yankees to have a five game winning streak heading on their long West Coast road trip.
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