April 20, 2010

Yankees-Athletics series preview

I didn’t expect the Athletics to be atop the AL West 14 games into the season, but they are, with a 9-5 record. The Yankees (9-3) are actually a half game behind the Rays for the top spot in the East.

Both the Yankees and Athletics enjoyed off days on Monday, so the bullpens will be well-rested for the three-game series in Oakland. And the Yankees should expect Derek Jeter to return to the lineup after sitting out Sunday with a cold.

This is the first of a nine-game, 10-day road trip for the Yankees, who play the Angels this weekend and the Orioles next week.

Pitching Matchups:

Date: Yankees starters Athletics starters
Tues., 10:05 p.m. J. Vazquez (0-2, 9.82) Gio Gonzalez (1-0, 3.38)
Wed., 10:05 p.m. Phil Hughes (1-0, 3.60) Ben Sheets (1-0, 2.65)
Thurs., 3:35 p.m. CC Sabathia (2-0, 2.84) Dallas Braden (2-0, 2.70)

Players to Watch:
Yankees: Jeter.
Look for the captain to return strong from two off days. He’s had a hot start to the year, and he’s expected to face two lefties (Gonzalez and Braden), which is always a plus for Jeter.

Athletics: Daric Barton. Who? Their first baseman. He’s hitting .310/.474/.405. He’s second in the league in walks with 13, one behind Nick Johnson. I’ve never seen this guy before, so I want to see his approach at the plate.

I have a bad feeling about Oakland, especially after looking at the ERAs of the three starters the Yankees will be facing. This year’s offense has a solid balance of speed and power, but can they continue their ways out west? I say no. They’ll lose against both lefties.

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