A couple of weekends ago, my wife and I attended an outdoor event in what was supposed to be rainy weather only to wind up with sunburns when the sun came out and stayed out. A couple of days later, Becky came home from work and grumbled, "If one more person says to me 'did you know you've got a sunburn' I'm going to scream." Strikes me that Hank's comments amount to the equivalent. Hey, Yankees, did you know your season isn't going that well? I wonder if Joe Girardi knows that. Hey, Joe! . . .
At least Hank was being timely. Amid his grousing was this bit of sabermetric brilliance:
"We just can't win one out of five games, every time Wang pitches. It's not going to work. It's not a good win percentage."
Indeed, the Yankees went out and snapped a three-game losing streak behind Chien-Ming Wang last night. But wait . . . why wasn't it a four-game losing streak?
Because the Yankees have won Mike Mussina's last two starts, as well. They'll try to make that three straight behind Moose this afternoon, and will clinch their fourth series win of the season (out of 11 series) if they do.
Mussina only lasted five innings his last time out, but has allowed just four runs over his last 12 innings and has been sharp both times out, pitching like the kind of wily veteran junkballer we'd all hoped he'd become in his later years. Today will mark his first start against the M's since 2005. Last year his only appearance against Seattle was his lone relief appearance amid his early-September exile from the rotation. He did not face the M's at all in 2006.
Opposing Mussina will be King Felix Hernandez who, at age 22 and in his fourth major league season, is living up to his nickname in the early going with a 2.22 ERA while averaging 7 1/3 innings per start. In his last start, Hernandez struck out ten A's in seven shutout innings, but came back out for the eighth and failed to retire any of the first four men he faced, all of whom would come around to score (three of them against the bullpen). Hernandez has thrown 110 or more pitches in each of his last four starts, and 115 or more in three of those four. Given his collapse at the end of his last start, one wonders if that's too much for a 22-year-old arm this early in the season.
Hernandez faced the Yankees just once last year, coincidentally in the same game at Safeco park that included Mussina's relief appearance. Hernandez held the Yanks to one run on five hits over seven innings in that outing, though the Bombers did draw four walks against him.
Today's Yankee lineup is what is likely to be the default lineup while Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada are both on the shelf, though it's the first time in the five games Rodriguez has missed that Joe Girardi has actually used it, in part because this is just the Yankees' second game against a righty starter in that span.
L - Johnny Damon (LF)
R - Derek Jeter (SS)
L - Bobby Abreu (RF)
L - Hideki Matsui (DH)
L - Jason Giambi (1B)
S - Melky Cabrera (CF)
L - Robinson Cano (2B)
R - Morgan Ensberg (3B)
R - Jose Molina (C)