Tomorrow the New York Yankees (35-26) return from a much needed day away from the game when they host the Cleveland Indians (30-32). New York has suffered their second 4-game losing streak of the season, which included being swept at Yankee Stadium by the Oakland Athletics this past weekend. Despite Derek Jeter still relegated to DH and Jason Giambi missing Sunday, two of the games were decided by 1 run. On Friday and Sunday, the Yankees left an abundance of runners in scoring position as the offense went through a predictable slide after so many consecutive games of 10+ hits. Randy Johnson imploded on Friday night, while the bullpen imploded on Sunday combined with sloppy defense in both day games. Despite the putrid weekend, however, the Yanks come into play just 1 game behind the Boston Red Sox (36-25) for superiority in the AL Eastern Division. This suddenly turns into a big series for the Yankees in hopes regaining some confidence and swagger.
Chien-Ming Wang (6-2, 4.52) returns to the mound in The Bronx to face veteran Paul Byrd (5-4, 5.15). Wang was superb in his last outing: 7IP and 1 ER against Boston. The question is whether or not Wang can avoid the proverbial "big inning." Wang has made 5 QS in his past 9. On the other hand, Byrd was also very effective the last time out against Oakland as he allowed just 2 ER over the same 7 IP. Moreover, Byrd has pitched at least 7 innings and allowed 2 ER or fewer in 3 of his past 4 starts. Since finishing April at 3-2 with an 8.03 ERA, Byrd is 2-2, 3.64.
Wang vs. CLE:
Aaron Boone: 3/3
Jhonny Peralta: 1/3
Grady Sizemore: 1/3, HR
*CLE roster is 6/23 (.261) against Wang with a 2B, HR, BB, 3K and an OBP of .292, SLG of .435 and an OPS of .726.
Byrd vs. NYY:
Derek Jeter: 6/18 (.333), 3 2B, BB, 5K, .611 SLG
Bernie Williams: 5/15 (.333), 2B, 2HR, 2BB, 2K, .800 SLG
Johnny Damon: 2/13 (.154)
Jorge Posada: 1/13 (.077), 2B, BB, K
Jason Giambi: 3/11 (.273), HR, 2BB, 2K, .545 SLG
Alex Rodriguez: 2/7 (.286), BB, 3K
*NYY roster is 23/118 (.195) against Byrd with 5 2B, 3B, 4HR, 12 BB, 20K and an OBP of .275, SLG of .356 and an OPS of .631
Bernie Williams is one of the few Yankees with good numbers against Paul Byrd, otherwise I definitely would have gone with Kevin Thompson as he needs to get more looks.