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Game 121: Gaudin latest challenger to the 5-spot Teflon

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Two-thirds of the way through the 2009 season and the Yankees have seemed to remedy, if not find ways around, the better part of the holes in their game. Except one. Trying to fill the #5 spot in their rotation has been like trying to hang a brick from the ceiling with a stick of Trident. Nothing sticks. And tonight they'll trot out the latest auditioner for this ornery role, in the form of Chad Gaudin (5-10, 5.13), who faces the As' Brett Anderson (7-8, 4.55).

Both pitchers excite me about as much as radishes. Gaudin isn't coming off the most auspicious of runs, and this game will be a fairly big indicator of whether his 4-10 record with the Padres is something he remembered to pack with him in his move to NY, or whether his new pinstripes will prove to be like Dumbo's feather.

Anderson has been bright and promising at best, lackluster at worst, but overall probably is best placed in the "reliable" bucket. The rookie had a scoreless 21-inning streak going at one point, but he got shelled in his last start, and even more significantly, isn't exactly inspiring fear in the hearts of the Yankee bats. (He's 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA in 2 starts against them.)

On the surface, this basic midweek rubber match seems pretty run of the mill, but it's packing more consequence than it initially lets on. Besides for the implications around Gaudin's utility, the outcome of this game also determines whether the Yanks ride high into Boston with reclaimed momentum, or whether they jetlag it back to the east wondering how they lost a series to a team playing sub-.500 ball.

Their offense has slightly cooled in the last few games, and I doubt Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano are going to enjoy a 6 hour flight with more 0-fers on their consciences. I suspect both of them will come back in spades tonight to avoid this fate. Either way, I'll be happy to see this string of west coast games come to an end. And while the Yanks are looking to the Red Sox series, I'll be looking to Thursday when I can sleep for 20 straight hours.


Lineup

New York Yankees @ Oakland Athletics

08/19/09 10:05 PM EDT

New York Yankees Oakland Athletics
Derek Jeter - SS Adam Kennedy - 3B
Johnny Damon - LF Rajai Davis - CF
Mark Teixeira - 1B Mark Ellis - 2B
Alex Rodriguez - 3B Kurt Suzuki - DH
Hideki Matsui - DH Ryan Sweeney - LF
Nick Swisher - RF Landon Powell - C
Robinson Cano - 2B Jack Cust - RF
Melky Cabrera - CF Tommy Everidge - 1B
Jose Molina - C Cliff Pennington - SS