The Yankees arrived in Baltimore looking to build on a five-game winning streak and continue their climb into the thick of the AL East race. Instead, they find themselves sending Andy Pettitte to the mound tonight in an attempt to avoid a sweep, while being guaranteed to arrive in Minneapolis as a last-place team, even if they pull out a win tonight.
Pettitte's opponent, Jeremy Guthrie, is the only Baltimore starter who has not yet faced the Yankees this year. Guthrie beat the Yanks twice amid his 2007 breakout season, but stumbled against them in their final confrontation in August. With Erik Bedard in Seattle, Guthrie has responded to the responsibility of being the O's best starter this year, following a poor Opening Day outing with eight quality starts in ten tries (and just missing in the other two). Guthrie has a 3.22 ERA over that span. Unfortunately, his teammates have only scored 3.09 runs per game for him, saddling him with a losing 2-4 record over that stretch. In his last two starts, Guthrie allowed just two runs in 13 2/3 innings, but lost both games by scores of 2-1 and 2-0. Given that the two teams just played an exhausting 10-9 11-inning affair last night, I wouldn't be surprised to see a similarly low-scoring game tonight.
Pettitte is coming off a pair of quality starts in which he struck out 16 men in 12 innings against just two walks and no home runs. Chad Moeller caught both of those starts and he'll catch Pettitte again tonight. Moeller is 4 for his last 12 with a walk and a hit-by-pitch, and in catching Darrell Rasner's and Andy Pettitte's recent successes could indeed be securing his roster spot beyond Jorge Posada's expected return next week. This is why giving Jose Molina a two-year $4-million deal was a dumb idea. As I concluded my post suggesting the Yankees resign him: "Jose Molina is as good a choice as any, and he can be easily replaced mid-season if he fails to maintain a replacement-level performance."