The Yankees saved a little face with a 6-1 win last night at Kansas City. The win gives the reeling Bronx Bombers at least a bit of momentum heading to Fenway Park this weekend. New York avoided a sweep at the hands of one of baseball’s best early surprises primarily due to the work of a reliable lefty.
Andy Pettitte was excellent for the Yanks. He gave up 1 run on 5 hits in 6.2 innings to pick up his first win of the year. The Yankees faced a pair of losing streaks over the past week. The first was ended by a dominant Chien-Ming Wang start. Pettitte delivered to finish off the second. In this long season, the Yankees have at least a pair of veteran starters on whom they can depend in tough times. Pettitte’s stable presence and ability to eat innings made it easier for this team to pass on Johan Santana. The team can now work on developing Phil Hughes. For this team to go far in October, Hughes will probably need to develop into an ace over the course of the season, but the stability which Andy provides takes a lot of pressure off the second year righty in the short term.
The bats finally seemed to come alive for this team. Melky Cabrera, Alex Rodriguez, and Jorge Posada all hit homers. Morgan Ensberg had a pair of hits while starting in place of Jason Giambi. One thing that has been good about Joe Girardi has been his willingness to shake up the lineup to find the right mix. In addition to Ensberg, Bobby Abreu was out of the lineup, Posada DHed, and Hideki Matsui played right. Giambi has been struggling and is an awful defender. Girardi should see if he can ride Ensberg at first. Morgan got the start last night mainly because Kansas City starter John Bale was a lefty, but Ensberg might help to jumpstart the offense. Although Posada’s homer was clearly a good thing, it probably will encourage Girardi to play him more at DH instead of just sending him to the DL to rest up and get healthy. That could become an issue. Jorge needs rest at this point and to get healthy for the next five months. In any event, it is nice to see the team finally start to shake off the rust heading to Boston.
The Yanks now head to Fenway for a weekend series. Chien-Ming Wang will get his first road start of 2008 against Clay Buchholz. Wang needs to show he can come through in a big start at Boston, where he struggled last season. The last thing anybody wants to hear is how the great Buccholz dominated the Yankees so the bats had best show up as well. The Sox have started just as poorly as the Yanks. There seems to be some sort of hangover from their March trip to Japan. This is a chance for New York to get some breathing against its biggest obstacle to reclaiming the AL East and perhaps send the Sox into the early tailspin the Bronx Bombers experienced last season.