New York Yankees (53-46) vs. Kansas City Royals (43-56)
Mike Mussina (4-7, 4.97) vs. Gil Meche (7-6, 3.63)
25 July 2007; 8:10 PM @ Kauffman Stadium
Brief Editorial Note: The Yankees currently sit at 53-46, and 53 + 46 = 99, not 100, which means that somehow the game count got off a little, but we're back on track now.
Speaking of "back on track" ...how about them Yankees??!! They've won five in a row, 8 of their last 10, are 11-3 since the All-Star Break and 16-6 in July. In fact, since they hit 7 games below .500 on June 4th, they've gone 29-15, for a 65.9% winning percentage, which is the best in MLB in that span. The offense deserves most of the credit for that success, as they've averaged over 6.3 runs/game for the last six weeks. They've gained three games in the AL Wild Card standings and are only 4.5 games behind Cleveland for the lead there, and have picked up five games in the standings on Boston in the AL East race, which is probably still out of hand, given that they're 7.5 games out with only about two months left to play.
The Royals, for their part, are 22-19 in that same stretch, though I'm not sure I agree with ESPN's Buster Olney that they've turned things around just because they took two out of three from the Tigers over the weekend. Losing by a combined score of 18-6 to the Yankees the last two nights sure put a damper on any hopes they may have been entertaining.
The Yankees will throw Mike Mussina out there tonight to face the Royals. Moose is only 1-3 on the road this year, though his 4.46 road ERA is considerably better than the 5.40 he's compiled at The House That Moose Didn't Build. Worse yet, he's 0-2 with a 6.48 ERA in July, though that does include two "Quality Starts", (6-innings, three earned runs) against Tampa Bay and Minnesota. His 4.2-inning, 6-run performance against Tampa Bay on Friday night was his worst start since his debut on April 6th (4 IP, 6 ER, hosting Baltimore). In his career against KC he's 15-7, 3.02 in 220+ innings, including 8-2, 3.12 at Kaufmann Stadium, though admittedly Moose was a different pitcher when most of those numbers were compiled. Here's hoping that tonight he's a different pitcher from the one who compiled those lousy numbers against the Devil Rays last week.
The Royals will start Gil Meche tonight, their $55 million man. Olney says that he's "earned every bit of his salary" (about $11 million for this year, just like Moose), though I'm not sure I agree. Meche has been good, but inconsistent this year. He's 4-2 with a 2.97 ERA on the road, but only 3-4, 4.17 at home. Before 2007, he never had a streak of more than four consecutive Quality Starts. This year he had seven Quality Start streak in which he went 2-0, 1.15, but otherwise has been just as mediocre as everybody expected, with a 5-6 record and a 4.97 ERA. With that said, he did make quick work of the reigning AL Champion Detroit Tigers last week, going 7 innings and allowing only 2 runs, so he'll probably make mincemeat out of the Yankee bats tonight and make me look like a fool. He threw a season-high 119 pitches in that start, but that wasn't much more than his average of about 104, so I suppose it's too much to ask that he feels some ill effects from the long outing and can't get out of the fifth inning. Meche has had some success against the Yankees, going 3-2, with a 3.88 ERA, including 2-0, 3.30 vs. the Yanks away from Yankee Stadium.
KC’s bullpen is 14th in the majors with a 3.77 ERA and features six regulars or semi-regulars with relief ERA’s between 2.31 and 3.57, so the Royals don’t have the soft underbelly in their bullpen that most teams have. If anything, you’d imagine that they want to get their starters out of the game as soon as possible, though that’s not a wise long-term strategy.
The Yankees’ bullpen is about as good, with a 3.71 ERA, and more wins, which were vultured from all those short-winded starting pitchers. If Moose falters, there’s every reason to think that the bullpen can keep them in the game and give the offense a chance to bludgeon the Royals into submission.
The Yankees’ offense has been on fire lately, scoring 63 runs in their last five games. Overall, they’re second in the majors with 572 runs scored in 100 games, second only to Detroit (576 runs in 99 games). Alex Rodriguez was the first player in the majors to compile 100 RBIs in 2007, and he continues to lead both leagues in homers (34), RBIs (100), Runs (95), slugging percentage, OPS, Total Bases, Runs Created, touchdowns, and partriges in pear Trees (1). Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada have both been hitting about .335 this season, and have stayed consistent in that. Hideki Matsui has recently turned on the power, with a MLB-leading 9 homers in July, and Robby Cano is hitting .423 since the All-Star Break. Bobby Abreu is on a hot streak as well, hitting .372 in July with 24 RBIs (2nd in MLB in that span), while Melky Cabrera is hitting .345 this month. Andy Phillips, finally given a chance to play when Joe Torre woke up to the fact that he couldn’t keep running Miguel Cairo out there every day, is hitting .338 in 20 July contests. Note that most of those are not likely to continue, but they’ll be nice while they last. The Yanks could still use another bat (like Mark Teixiera or Adam Dunn) to supplant Phillips or the rotating DH in the lineup.
The Royals have hit .285 as a team this month, but nobody has more than two homers in that span, so they’re seemingly no real threat with the long-ball. Rookie Billy Butler is hitting .382 in July, with 20 RBIs, and veteran/journeyman Mark Grudz131@n#7 is hitting .424, albeit with ZERO homers. Esteban “The Good” German is hitting .419 this month, but somehow has driven in only three runs in 14 games.
The Yankees’ winning streak ends at five. Moose stinks up the joint for four innings and change, then gives way to Kyle Farnsworth and Luis Vizcaino, who follow suit. Yanks fall, 10-4.
25 July 2007
New York Yankees (53-46) vs. Kansas City Royals (43-56)
Posted by Travis M. Nelson at 7/25/2007