The Yankees can break even on their current west coast swing and their season series against the Angels by taking two out of three in Anaheim this weekend. Not that it’s going to be easy. All three pitching matchups favor the Halos and the Angels always play the Yankees hard with or without that up-front advantage.
Tonight the Yankees sent Jaret Wright to face John Lackey. In the finale of their series two weeks ago in the Bronx, the Yankees put 15 men on base against Lackey in seven innings, but managed just three runs before finally breaking through against Brendan Donnelly in the eighth. Two days before that, Wright held the Angels to one run on just two hits but four walks in his usual 5 1/3 innings. Wright hasn’t started in eight days, but has pitched a pair of innings out of the pen in that span with mixed results. Lackey’s turn has come up just once since that outing in New York, in that start he was roughed up by the Mariners for five runs on twelve hits in 4 2/3 innings despite an excellent 7:1 K/BB.
The Angles have only made two roster changes since we last saw them, swapping out righty reliever Chris Bootcheck for another in Greg Jones and replacing Curtis Pride, who landed on the disabled list, with switch-hitting rookie outfielder Reggie Willits. They have however shuffled their line-up somewhat, with Robb Quinlan finally getting the majority of the starts at first base, Howie Kendrick platooning at second base with Adam Kennedy, and Mike Napoli getting the bulk of the starts behind the plate.
For the Yankees, Alex Rodriguez returns to the line-up and third base, while Aaron Guiel gets his first career start at first. Guiel had never played first base in the majors before joining the Yankees, though he has appeared their three times already for the Bombers. The Guiel move is very encouraging, as it is the left-handed Guiel, not switch-hitter-in-name-only Bernie Williams, who should be platooning with the struggling Craig Wilson (.258/.290/.394 as a Yankee). Here’s hoping Guiel is solid in the field and comes up with a big hit or two, rewarding Torre for his creativity.