Early season run differential has a lot of noise in it. That doesn’t make it any less upsetting when you see that the Angels have the second-best run differential in the American League at +19 but sit with a 10-11 record. Then you look across the diamond at this Yankees team and their +2 differential and that they are 13-9 and sitting atop the “toughest division in baseball” in spite of that and it really grinds my gears. Let’s hope that this series plays out in a way more true to the Pythagorean selves of each team so that my gears can be unground.
It’s funny, I remember just the last two decades where much has been made about how the Halos have been one of the few teams to have any kind of success against the Yankees dynasty. I completely forgot that for the first two decades of the Angels’ existence, the Yankees beat the ever-loving piss out of them. Even with the recent history in mind, the series has actually been pretty fairly split the last few years
FRIDAY, 4/25: C.J. Wilson vs. Hiroki Kuroda
C.J. has a fairly extensive history with the Yankees and it has been mostly successful. He simply dominates Ichiro, which is too bad because Ichiro doesn’t play much. Jeter and, in a much smaller sample, Alfonso Soriano are really the only guys with any real success against Wilson. Both of those guys are crazy old now, so who knows how they match up now.
The three Angels that have faced HIROK the most have had solid success. Pujols has never walked against him, but he’s picked up hits and flashed some power. Aybar has actually been kind of bad but did somehow take him deep once. Oddly enough, Ian Stewart has picked up several hits against him, so it will be curious to see if Scioscia puts any stock in that and finds a way to get him a start in this game. Perhaps he could start at DH instead of Raul Ibanez because Raul can’t tough Kuroda, historically.
SATURDAY, 4/26: Hector Santiago vs. Vidal Nuno
There is a theme developing here. Derek Jeter has faced Santiago twice, but has a single and a homer against him. Alfonso Soriano has faced him eight times and taken him deep twice. Somehow Brian Roberts has gone yard on him, too. I have a hard time believing Roberts was ever even healthy enough to play at any point during Santiago’s short career.
Nuno is a rookie and obviously never faced any of the Angels before.
SUNDAY, 4/27: Garrett Richards vs. Masahiro Tanaka
Not a lot of action against the Yanks for Richards, but he has been quite good. In 32 plate appearances, the Yankees have only gotten to Garrett for four hits, three walks, one double and a triple while fanning five times. Kelly Johnson is responsible for almost all of that damage, so if Richards can deal with him, I like his odds.
Another rookie, but this one is actually interesting. Tanaka has given up a few homers, but he has mostly been making guys look foolish. I don’t like the odds for the Angels.
Second verse, same as the first. I’m anticipating a replay of what we saw in the Capitol with the Angels taking the first two games, threatening to sweep again and get on a legit winning streak only to gag away a tightly contested final game of the series. Also, someone other than Frieri will record a save for the Angels this weekend.
UNOFFICIAL PREDICTION (so don’t hold me to it)
Mike Trout continues his dominance of imported Japanese aces and goes 2-for-2 with a walk, double and homer against Tanaka.