The good news about last night's loss to the Tigers was that it came in the game with the least favorable pitching matchup for the Yankees. In a way, it reminded me of the team's 14-4 loss to the Devil Rays in the opening game of a four-game series in the Bronx four weeks ago. Mike Mussina got torched in that game (4 2/3 IP, 6 R), and then the Yankees torched the Devil Rays over the remaining three games.
Indeed, tonight's matchup favors the Yankees quite a bit. Nate Robertson is 1-3 with a 6.39 ERA over his last five starts, while Andy Pettitte has recovered from his stumble just before the All-Star Break to go 5-1 with a 3.15 ERA in seven post-break starts. Five of those seven have been quality starts and the only two that weren't saw Pettitte fall just one out short. The biggest difference between the two of late has been extra base hits. Opposing hitters have hit just one home run and slugged just .352 against Pettitte over those last seven games while hitting four jacks off Robertson in his last five and slugging .557 against the bespectacled Bengal. Altogether, 41 percent of Robertson's hits allowed over that span have gone for extra bases, while just 23 percent of Pettitte's have.
Finally some roster notes on the Tigers. Remember in yesterday's preview when I said "Monroe has been so bad . . . that he appears to be losing his job." I meant his job as the starting left fielder. Turns out, he just lost his job as a Detroit Tiger, getting designated for assignment this afternoon so that the Tigers could call up top prospect Camron Maybin. Maybin, a 20-year-old righty-hitting outfielder, is a classic five-tool prospect who was the organization's minor league player of the year while in low-A ball last year, but this might be a little too much too soon. Maybin just hit double-A this month and comes to the majors with just six games above A-ball under his belt. Of course he went 8 for 20 with four homers in those six games, but it's still just six games. He also struck out 83 times in 83 games in high-A and six more times in those six games in double-A. Nonetheless, he'll make his major league debut in left field at Yankee Stadium tonight in a game with playoff implications. But no pressure, kid.
Less exciting is the swap of right-hitting backup infielders Omar Infante and Ramon Santiago. A lot less exciting.
Meanwhile, Joe Torre seems unconcerned about Robertson's left-handedness and rather fierce platoon splits. Torre's keeping Bobby Abreu in the lineup, starting Jason Giambi at DH, and giving Melky Cabrera a day of rest, which puts Johnny Damon in center field. Save for Abreu, who should be platooning with Shelley Duncan, there's really nothing wrong with that lineup. Andy Phillips starts at first over Duncan as well, but with the groundballing Pettitte on the mound, that's legit, too.