Of course you want to win every game, but realistically, a baseball team enters a three-game series, particularly one against the team with the best record in the league, hoping to take two of three. Looking at this week’s series in Toronto, the Yankees had to assume last night’s game against Roy Halladay would be the loss, so really everything’s going according to plan, right?
Tonight, Andy Pettitte looks to keep the Yankees on track against Scott Richmond. Richmond is a 29-year-old rookie who went undrafted after graduating from Oklahoma State. He then posted a 14-19 record with a 4.37 ERA over three seasons with the Edmonton Cracker-Cats of the independent Northern League, during which the Vancouver native also pitched for Canada in the inagural World Baseball Classic, though again without particularly encouraging results. The Blue Jays signed Richmond after he made the move to the Cracker-Cats’ rotation in 2007. He split most of 2008 between Double- and Triple-A, going 6-11 witha 4.45 ERA, but also made five spot starts for the major league club. The first four of those starts were nearly identical (between five and 5 2/3 innings, three runs, no more than one walk and either four or five strikeouts in each), but left him 0-3. His last saw him shutout the Orioles in a rain-shortened six-inning ballgame on September 26.
Richmond didn’t get into a game before Canada was eliminated from this year’s WBC, but opened the season as the Blue Jay’s fifth starter and has thus far gone 4-1 with a 3.29 ERA. In the middle four of his six starts, Richmond went 4-0 with a 2.o5 ERA, turning in a quality start each time out with an average of nearly 6 2/3 innings pitched. That streak was snapped his last time out, when he took his first loss after giving up five runs in the second inning against the A’s in Oakland. Still, Richmond recovered from that rocky frame to shut out the A’s the rest of the way, needing just 96 pitches to complete eight innings.
Richmond has been hit-lucky thus far as his opponents’ average on balls in play is just .245, and he’s always had good, but not spectacular control. The result has been a solid 1.2 WHIP. A fly-ball pitcher, he’s given up five home runs, a rate of 1.2 every nine innings, but three have been solo shots and the other two came with just one man on base. Richmond is also death on right-handed hitters (.155/.183/.182 in his young major league career), but can struggle against lefties.
Unfortunately, Hideki Matsui is out today after tweaking his hamstring in last night’s game. Derek Jeter (oblique) is also out for the second-straight day. Pete Abe reports that Jeter hasn’t swung a bat since Sunday, but “hopes to play tomorrow,” which is what he said yesterday. Ramiro Peña and Brett Gardner once again benefit from these aches and pains per this lineup:
L – Johnny Damon (DH)
S – Nick Swisher (RF)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
S – Melky Cabrera (LF)
L – Brett Gardner (CF)
S – Ramiro Peña (SS)
S – Francisco Cervelli (C)
If there’s any upside there it’s that only Alex Rodriguez will hit right-handed against Richmond.
As for Pettitte, his last two starts have been shaky. Against the Angels on May 1, he walked four and gave up five runs in 5 2/3 innings, though the Yankees rallied to win that game 10-9. In his last start, last Thursday against the Rays, he gave up five runs in six innings courtesy of four Tampa homers. The Yankees also rallied to tie that game, but lost on two more home runs off Mariano Rivera. On the season as a whole, however, Pettitte looks like Pettitte: 4.38 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 6 1/2 innings per start.