The last two times the Yankees lost the first game of a series, they bounced back to win the next two and the series, doing so in Oakland and at home against the Blue Jays. The Rangers pose more of a challenge, but the Yanks hope to repeat the feat starting tonight as veteran lefty Andy Pettitte takes on 22-year-old lefty prospect Derek Holland.
Andy got smacked around a bit in his last start, but the Yankees scored 20 runs, so not many people noticed or cared. Prior to that he’d been awesome in the second half with five quality starts in six tries, a 2.04 ERA, and a 4.3 K/BB. Against the Rangers on June 3, he gave up four runs on seven hits and six walks in just five innings.
Holland started against the Yankees on May 27 and gave up six runs (five earned) on ten hits and two walks. He then gave up two more runs to them in relief the following week. Along the way, the rookie gave up homers to Derek Jeter, Hideki Matsui, and Kevin Cash (!). He’s come a long way since then, however, and has posted a 2.95 ERA in seven starts since returning to the rotation in mid-July. He’s been particularly sharp in his last four starts: 1.85 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 3.5 K/9. The best of those outings was a three-hit, eight-strikeout shutout of the Angels, with his 8 2/3 innings of one-run, two-hit, ten-K ball against the Mariners finishing second.
Johnny Damon sits today. Nick Swisher bats second. Jerry Hairston Jr. bats ninth and plays left. Everyone else is in their usual places.