With yesterday's ugly 9-7 win on the books, the Yankees have allowed 16 runs in the two games started by Chien-Ming Wang and 14 runs in their other five contests. Seven of the 16 runs allowed in Wang's starts were given up by the Yankee bullpen across 7 1/3 innings. The Yankee pen has allowed just two runs in 8 2/3 innings in the other five games. The Yankee offense, meanwhile, as scored 34 runs in the team's three wins and ten in their four loses.
The Royals, meanwhile, have proved capable of both winning and losing both low and high-scoring affairs, dropping their first two against the Tigers 3-1 and 14-3, then taking their first two from the World Champion White Sox 11-7 and 4-3. Between yesterday's loss and that first win against the Chisox, the Royals scored 18 runs, but have scored just nine runs in their other four games.
It's too early for any of these stats to really be meaningful, but they sure are curious, and they make speculation about the potential of this afternoon's contest all the more difficult.
Today the Royals will send to the mound 25-year-old lefty Jeremy Affeldt. Affeldt was once considered a future rotation star for the Royals before blisters and other injuries pushed him to the bullpen. Last year he pitched exclusively in relief, and not all that well, serving as a second lefty behind Rule 5 pick and yesterday's losing pitcher Andy Sisco. The year before, he made just 8 starts and was far less effective as a starter than he was in his 30 relief appearances. This year he's been thrust back into the rotation by the mysterious disapperances of Zack Greinke, who skipped the team in late February and is on the DL due to psychological issues, and Runelvys Hernandez, whom the Royals tried to placed on the DL due to "lack of stamina" after he showed up for camp overweight but were forced to option to Omaha instead. In his first start this season, Affeldt lasted just four innings, surrendering six runs on seven hits and a pair of walks to the White Sox.
The Yankees counter with Shawn Chacon, who faired better in his first start against the Angels, though not dramatically so, giving up four runs on eight hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings. One encouraging sign was that Chacon struck out four in those 5 2/3 innings despite a mere 58 percent of his pitches being strikes. This against an Angels team that was the second hardest in baseball to strikout in 2005. Both Chacon and Affeldt feature big 12-6 curves, which just may be my favorite pitch to watch. If only I could take today off of work as well.
Mike Sweeney, who left yesterday's game in the ninth after being hit on the right hand by a Mariano Rivera pitch, is expected to be in the line-up for Kansas City. His x-rays were negative.
Update: Joe Torre is sitting Robinson Cano against the lefty Affeldt, giving Miguel Cairo his second start in the Yankees' first eight games. Cairo is hitting ninth behind Bernie, who will play right field allowing Sheffield to DH. Sweeney, meanwhile, is not in the line-up for the Royals. Matt Stairs will DH for KC instead.