I figure this is as good a time as any to make my return from hiatus. Below are a few randomly optimistic thoughts about the Yankees’ chances in Game 6.
- Phil Hughes should pitch better than he did in Game 2, when he was pounded for 7 runs on 10 hits in 4 innings. He will be on normal rest for Game 6 (as opposed to the week off he had after clinching the series against Minnesota), which could help him with the feel of his secondary offerings and command. He has been a great road pitcher this season, and will look to redeem himself in Texas.
- I like Robinson Cano hitting in the 3-hole after the injury to Teixeira. Cano has been by far the Yankees’ best hitter in this series (and the entire season, in fact), and by hitting higher in the lineup, he will get more at-bats. In addition, hitting Cano in front of A-Rod will likely mean that pitchers are less likely to pitch around him (even though Alex is struggling, he still commands respect from opposing pitchers) than he would hitting in front of Nick Swisher.
- I know this sounds like an awful thing to say, but I wonder if the Teixeira injury could be addition by subtraction for the Yankees. While it obviously hurts to lose a Gold Glove winning 1st baseman and #3 hitter, Tex has looked lost at the plate in this series, going 0 for 14 and struggling to even get the ball out of the infield. Lance Berkman, Teixeira’s replacement, has a hit in every postseason game. Against the righty Colby Lewis, he will be put in a position to succeed, as he is much better from the left side.
- If both starters are pulled early, I think the Yankees can win the battle of the bullpens. Joe Girardi has the luxury of using CC Sabathia (as mentioned in Moshe’s last post) along with a rested David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain on top of the game 5 duo of Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera. With Mariano likely prepared to pitch 2 innings if necessary, Girardi doesn’t have to worry about pulling a reliever who looks ineffective early. The likes of Mitre and Mosley (the modern-day M&M boys) will be nowhere to be found. Texas’s bullpen has some good arms, but I don’t think it is as deep. I highly doubt Neftali Feliz gets used for more than a 1-inning save, which works in New York’s favor.
- Nelson Cruz was pulled from Game 5 with a tight hamstring (though he will play tomorrow night). If he is not 100% in Game 6, the Yankees catch a big break. Cruz has gotten some big hits off of Yankee pitching this season, and he is another intimidating hitter in the middle of the Texas lineup. If he’s hurting, he may not be as effective at the plate. Additionally, he has been a solid defensive presence in the outfield this series, and if his hamstring slows him down even just a little bit, the Yankees could see a few more hits drop in. Plus, Cruz playing keeps David Murphy, who has killed the Yankees of late, out of the game.
Any other thoughts? Why are you optimistic (or pessimistic) about Game 6? Obviously, the intimidating presence of Cliff Lee looms over Game 7, but the Yankees have to get there first.
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