The Yankees managed to take three out of four games from the Baltimore Orioles over the weekend at the Stadium, but it really felt like it should have been more. Losing on Sunday while the Red Sox also lost was a missed opportunity with time running out. Regardless, the Yankees now face their closest AL Wild Card competition, the Twins, for three games in the Bronx.
Here’s how the pitching matchups shake out:
Game 1: Jaime Garcia vs. Ervin Santana
Garcia took exception to Joe Girardi removing him early from his last start in an embarrassingly public way. He gave up just one run in 4.2 innings against the Rays, but Girardi wanted to turn to his strong bullpen instead of risking things with a somewhat shaky Garcia. Expect his leash to be similarly short in the first game of the series against the Twins.
The Twins start their ace for the first game of the series, giving the Yankees a look at who would likely start the Wild Card game for Minnesota if these two teams meet for the one-game playoff. Santana had a couple shaky starts back to back with two consecutive four-run outings against the Royals, but he shook off those struggles in his last start for six shutout innings against the Padres. His September numbers have been a little worse than the rest of his season, so hopefully the Yankees can continue that trend.
Game 2: CC Sabathia vs. Jose Berrios
Like Garcia, Sabathia’s recent outings have been cut short. Some of that may be so that Girardi can lean on his bullpen, but some of that may be Girardi monitoring the status of Sabathia’s knee in order to get his left-hander through the rest of the season. The Yankees got a win in CC’s last start in which he went 4.1 innings and surrendered just one run to Tampa Bay. Sabathia probably won’t be pitching too deep into this game, so he’ll need to just get the team out to a good start that the relievers can continue.
Berrios has bounced around between short outings and long outings, due to wide-ranging effectiveness, on his way to a 12-7 record this season. His last two starts, against Toronto and Kansas City, have been pretty good with his best start of the two (seven two-run innings against the Royals) ending up as a Twins loss. Berrios’ last start against the Yankees was a good one, as he surrendered just one run in 6.2 innings of work.
Game 3: Masahiro Tanaka vs. Bartolo Colon
The series finale afternoon game should be an interesting one as the Yankees send Tanaka to the mound against the timeless legend that is Bartolo Colon. Tanaka followed his very poor outing against Texas with a very good start against Baltimore in the series over the weekend. He did allow two home runs to Baltimore, but two runs against that offense is not bad. Tanaka has been very good as of late, Texas game not withstanding.
Colon, on the other hand, has struggled for the most part. His 6.39 ERA and 6-13 record are not bright shining lights, and he’s gotten roughed up in his last two starts against Toronto and Kansas City. In 72.1 games on the road this year, the former Yankee has a 6.22 ERA. Yankee Stadium can be very unkind to pitchers who struggle, and the Yankees definitely have the fire power to make it even tougher.