It is like we have found a time machine. The first place (AL East) New York Yankees (20-13) are coming to town to battle it out with the Kansas City Royals (18-13), a team only a half a game out of first place in the AL Central. No, it is not the late 1970′s; it is 2013 and for the first time in a very long time, this is a match-up of contenders.
Game One, Friday, 7:10
Yankee Starter – Phil Hughes (1-2, 3.60 ERA): Hughes is coming off his best outing of the season on May 4 against Oakland. He threw 8 shutout innings, giving up just 4 hits and 2 walks while striking out 9. In his first five starts, Hughes allowed at least 2 runs per outing, but not more than 2 since April 13, his second outing of the year. He has struck out 34 in his 35 innings and walked only 7. Hughes has surrendered 5 home runs but none in his last three starts.
Royal Starter – Wade Davis (2-2, 4.75 ERA): Davis has been inconsistent as he attempts to convert back into a starter after pitching solely in relief in 2012. In three of his starts, including his last one on May 5, Davis has only allowed 1 run in 18 innings. In his other three starts, he has been beaten up to the tune of 15 runs in 12.1 innings. Davis must find a level of consistency (hopefully not consistently bad), if he hopes to make it as a starter in this league. Let’s hope for the good Wade Davis tonight.
Game Two, Saturday, 6:10
Yankee Starter – Andy Pettitte (3-2, 4.06): The 40-year veteran has struggled just a bit recently. Over his last 2 starts, Pettitte has been touched up for 10 earned runs on 14 hits in 9.1 innings. The crafty lefty, who has only served up 2 home runs in 37.2 innings, will look to right the ship against an inconsistent Royals line-up. Pettitte has a sparkling career mark of 248-144, with an ERA of 3.86.
Royal Starter – James Shields (2-2, 2.52 ERA) – These are the types of games where pitchers like “Big Game” James earn their reputations. Unlike Davis, Shields has been the epitome of consistency. He has gone at least 6 innings every game and not allowed more than 4 runs in any contest. He has lasted at least 7 innings in 4 outings and surrendered 3 or less runs 4 times. He has struck 48 in 50 innings and walked only 12, and has served up only 3 home runs. This is a prime time match-up and the reason Kansas City traded for Shields.
Game Three, Sunday, 1:10
Yankee Starter – Hiroki Kuroda (4-2, 2.30 ERA): This 38-year is aging like a fine wine. Since his first start, Kuroda hasn’t allowed more than 3 runs and has gone at least 7 innings in 4 of his seven starts. He has K’d 33 and walked 12 while only getting touched for 3 round trippers in 43 total innings. Kuroda is a steady pitcher with little flash, but provides the Yankees with a chance at victory every time out.
Royal Starter – Ervin Santana (3-1, 2.36 ERA): Since allowing 4 runs and 3 home runs in 6 innings in his first start, Santana has been spectacular. He has surrender only 6 earned runs in his last 36 innings (1.50 ERA) and has given up just one home run since that first start. His control has been impeccable, with 35 strikeouts to only 6 walks. Santana has been everything the Royals hoped he would be thus far in 2013.
OFFENSIVE STAT FACTS
New York: The Yankees ranked 10th in the AL in runs 139 but 3rd in home runs with 42. New York in 14th in the league with only 40 doubles. They have only been caught stealing 5 times in 24 attempts. Robinson Cano, who might get booed tonight at the “K” due residual resentment over Cano not selecting hometown hero Billy Butler for the Home Run Derby last summer, is the Yankees’ leader. He tops the team in average (.311), home runs (9), RBI (20), and runs (21). Former Blue Jay and Angel Vernon Wells is off to a hot start with a .294 average, 7 HR, and 16 RBI.
Kansas City: The Royals are 13th in the AL in runs scored with 134. With 22 home runs, they are dead last in home runs. The Royals are 4th in the league in average at .266, 8th in OBP at .320, and 12 in SLG at .394. Alex Gordon leads the team in home runs (6), RBI (25), and runs (24). No one is even close in any of these categories. Lorenzo Cain leads the team in average at .324.
It should be a very exciting, meaningful series this weekend. It is great to be this deep in the season and still be relevant. The Yankees are used to this; the Royals not so much. Each pitching match-up is a good one, and by looking at the numbers, walks and homers may be at a premium. Enjoy this great weekend match-up!