This week in Yankees baseball – Heading into Week 4

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The New York Yankees have won four straight series and that is what Joe Girardi likes. C.C. Sabathia picked up another win. Andy Pettitte won another start. Heck, even Ivan Nova won one of his two starts. Hiroki Kuroda pitched well enough to win his start but that game became a bullpen win after the bullpen blew Kuroda’s. And perhaps we are a greedy and spoiled bunch, but it certainly seemed like the last two series should have been sweeps. The team went ahead, 4-2 on Sunday just to see the bullpen cough up four runs to give the Blue Jays the last game of the series. Back on Thursday, the Yankees were down a run heading into the ninth and Francisco Cervelli smacked a homer to tie the game. But David Phelps–who figured prominently in both losses this week–got roughed up in the twelfth inning. The week could have been better…should have been better. But it could have been worse too.

Mariano Rivera added three more saves to his career total this past week (613) and his games finished record (898). After six games, Rivera’s statistics are again in line with the rest of his stupendous career.

The Yankees stay in the American League East this week and face the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Pete for three games and then travel home to start a four game series at the Stadium against the Blue Jays. The Yankees have not had fun in Tropicana Park the past two seasons. Last year, they went 2-7 there after finishing 3-6 the year before. Rays’ manager, Joe Maddon, likes employing the shift against Yankee hitters and uses his bullpen extensively for match-ups. And at Tropicana, Joe Girardi always seems to over-manage, almost as if he is trying to keep up with the guy in the other dugout.

Anyway, the first game features a doozy of a pitching match-up as C.C. Sabathia goes against Matt Moore. Moore had a somewhat disappointing rookie season, but has come out of the gate in 2013 throwing a lot of zeroes. Moore has given up only two earned runs on eight hits in eighteen innings. Moore has walked a lot of batters though which is his only negative statistic in his 3-0 start. Sabathia has won his last three decisions.

Tuesday night will pit Phil Hughes against David Price. Hughes gave up two solo homers in his last start, but otherwise pitched well as he only allowed those two runs in seven innings. The Yankees will take that all year if they can get it. Home runs are less of a problem for Hughes on the road. David Price won the Cy Young Award in 2012 but is still looking for his first win of 2013 as he is 0-1 in four starts. He has given up way too many base runners and his ERA is over six. Price is too good of a pitcher to pitch that poorly for long. So it will be another tough game for the Yankees.

The series concludes on Wednesday with Andy Pettitte facing Alex Cobb. Pettitte is 3-0 already and showed no signs of ill-effects from his back problem in his last outing. Girardi, of course, will worry about Pettitte on that fake turf down there in St. Pete. Alex Cobb has turned into a reliable starter for the Rays and has started this season at 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA. Cobb is an extreme ground ball pitcher with pretty good control.

All three games at Tropicana Field will start at 7:10.

There is no rest for the team this week as the Yankees will jump right in to another series with the Toronto Blue Jays at home on Thursday. The series in Toronto went well enough as the Blue Jays are off to a disappointing start to the season.

The series will start with a Hiroki Kuroda versus Mark Buehrle match-up. While Beuhrle has been fooling Major League batters for a long time, he does give up a lot of hits and it will simply depend on if the Yankees can string some of them together. Kuroda has looked great in his most recent starts.

Friday will be a repeat of Sunday’s Josh Johnson and Ivan Nova match-up. Both pitchers have been disappointing. Johnson will get all the time he needs to straighten himself out. Ivan Nova probably does not have that luxury and will need to string together a couple of good starts pretty soon. He sure is maddening as he looks brilliant and awful on alternate pitches. He seems to have inherited A.J. Burnett‘s mantle as a Yankee pitcher.

Saturday and Sunday’s pitchers have not been announced as yet. Saturday is a 4:05 start and Sunday’s game starts at 1:05. It would seem the Yankees would pitch Sabathia and then Hughes on Saturday and Sunday.

To this point, the Yankees have scored 88 runs and have allowed 73 for a run differential of +15. The Rays have only scored 68 runs and have allowed 75 for a differential of -7. The Blue Jays have scored 72 runs, allowed 100 and the Jays’ -28 differential is the fourth worst in baseball.

The Yankees are currently sixth of thirty teams in runs scored per game at 5.25 (not including Sunday). And they are second in baseball in team OPS. The pitchers are twelfth in baseball in runs allowed per game but in the bottom third in WHIP.

Predictions: The Yankees go 4-3 this week.

Have a good week everybody.

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.