With their victory last night, the Yankees ran their record to .500 on the month and .500 at home for the year. Despite having already won the series with Seattle (just their fourth of the year and their first following another series win), they'll need a victory this afternoon against 42-year-old Jamie Moyer to avoid dropping those records back below .500 before leaving town for a six-game trip to the west coast.
The good news is that the Yankees have four men in their line-up with spectacular past success against Moyer, including the blazing hot Tino Martinez (.346/.404/.654 in 52 at-bats), who will look to extend his four-game homer streak. Another of the fab four is Bernie Williams, who will get his second straight start at DH this afternoon. If memory serves me right, Bernie's numbers against Moyer are a bit deceptive. He has hit .386/.458/.771 (.399 GPA) against him in 83 career at-bats, but I recall that just a few years ago he had a .500 career average against the Seattle hurler, meaning he's actually struggled against him since. The other two Moyer-killers are Alex Rodriguez (.380/.426/.740 in 50 ABs) and Gary Sheffield, who has hit an unreal .550/.654/1.200 (.594) in 20 career at-bats, most of which likely came during 2004 and interleague play in prior years.
One Yankee with less impressive numbers against Moyer is Hideki Matsui (.250/.333/.438). Matsui's slump continued last night with an 0 for 5 (though he would have had an RBI double in the third inning if not for Ichiro Suzuki's ridiculous range in right). He's hitting .189/.279/.270 (.193) through the first ten games of May, is homerless since the fourth game of the season back on April 8, and his season line has sagged to a pathetic .233/.315/.372 (.235).
One wonders if, with the series in his pocket going into a day game after a night game, Joe Torre might consider sitting Matsui this afternoon. Matsui, of course, has a consecutive games streak that extends back through his career in Japan to August 21, 1993, so he'd most likely appear as a defensive replacement at the end of the game, but with an off-day tomorrow, it would be nice to give Slumpzilla a couple days in which he's not confronted with his struggles at the plate.
In his stead, Torre could move Womack over to center and put the just called up Russ Johnson in left to get his feet wet. Johnson is primarily a third baseman, but can play just about anywhere on the field other than catcher and center. Here's what I wrote about Johnson when going over the Yankee campers this spring:
Johnson provides an above-average glove at second and third (not so much at short) and knows how to take a walk, posting a .349 OBP (against a .265 average) in 946 major league plate appearances with the Astros and Devil Rays from 1997-2002. He also has doubles power, having hit 10 in 156 ABs in 1999 and 19 in 248 AB's in 2001. Johnson spent last year with the Iowa Cubs in the Pacific Coast League, where he hit a lot of doubles and drew a lot of walks while playing second, third and first.
Johnson is hitting .285/.382/.488 (.294) as the Clippers starting third baseman this season with 10 doubles 20 RBIs and 20 walks in 123 at-bats. A non-roster invitee this spring, Johnson will take the 40-man roster spot vacated when the Yankees designated Steve Karsay for assignment last week.
As for that "Wes" thing, Johnson's full name is William Russell Johnson, so his minor league stats are listed under "W Johnson" much in the same way George Andrew Phillips is listed a G Phillips, Randall Colter Bean is listed as R Bean, and Richard Stephen "Bubba" Crosby is listed as R Crosby. Speaking of Bubba, it is interesting to note that the Yankees did not recall Bubba to take Felix Rodriguez's spot. If you ask me, they made the right move. With Bernie around as an emergency outfielder, bringing up Johnson, who can play everywhere and has proven his ability to hit in the majors (to the degree that I'd prefer the 32-year-old Johnson to the 37-year-old Rey "Clutch" Sanchez as the Yankees utility infielder) three of the four Clippers who most deserve spots on the Yankees 25-man this season (Johnson, Phillips and Wang, Colter Bean being the fourth) are now in pinstripes.