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by Matt Fargo - 04/16/2009
The Betting Numbers
The Yankees opened as -200 favorites with an over/under of 9.
Recent Series History
This is the first meeting this year between the Indians and Yankees. Cleveland took four of the seven meetings last season and going back further, it has won seven of the last 11 following New Yorkâ€™s eight-game series winning streak at the end of 2006 and the start of 2007. The Indians won two of the three meetings at Yankee Stadium last season.
This is the home opener for the Yankees who played their first nine games on the road to start the season. This is also the christening of the brand new Yankee Stadium so there will be a lot of energy and more than likely a lot of beer flowing in the early afternoon hours. New York is off to its typical slow start as it dropped its first series in Baltimore before coming back to win the next series in Kansas City and then taking two of three in Tampa Bay. Neither the offense nor the pitching have looked sharp early on so the record payroll the front office is dishing out has yet to pay off.
New York is hitting .269 on the season but that improves to .322 against left-handed pitching and that is what it will encounter on Thursday afternoon in facing reigning Cy Young Winner Cliff Lee. The pitching has been hit or miss. Free agent signings C.C. Sabathia, who will square off against Lee, and A.J. Burnett were extremely solid in their most recent outings. Most of the problem has been with Chien-Ming Wang who has allowed 15 earned runs in only 4.2 innings of work. Taking out his numbers and the team ERA drops significantly from 5.16 to 3.41.
While the Yankees start has been slow, the Indians start has been even worse. They lost their first five games of the season before salvaging the series finale against Toronto in their lone home series so far this year. Cleveland was supposed to contend in the American League Central last season but it was a miserable year as its wins dropped by 15 games from 2007 and it was only that little of a difference thanks to a 31-17 finish in its final 48 games to end the season right at .500. The Indians were hoping that momentum would carry over into 2009 but so far it has not.
The bats have been ice cold as Cleveland is hitting just .246 on the season which is third worst in the American League. The Indians have averaged 4.8 rpg which isnâ€™t that bad actually (18th in baseball) but when the pitching is giving up 8.0 rpg, there wonâ€™t be many wins taking place. The staff has a team ERA of 8.46 which is easily the worst in baseball and worst in the American League by close to two runs. The starters have an ERA of 10.12 while the bullpen has posted an ERA of 6.37 which is tied for 27th in the league. Until this improves, it will be another long early season for Cleveland.
Sabathia will be facing his former team for the first time ever and what better venue than in the first game at the new Yankee Stadium. His first season in New York started rough as he was hit hard by the Orioles, allowing six runs on eight hits and five walks and no strikeouts in just 4.1 innings. His second start could not have been more the opposite as he rebounded with 7.2 shutout innings against the Royals, allowing six hits while issuing no walks and striking out six. Sabathia never liked the old Yankee Stadium as he went 1-4 with an 8.61 ERA in five starts. He wonâ€™t be facing the Yankees this time however.
Lee is looking like the pitcher he was in 2007 and not the 22-3 pitcher from a year ago. He got clobbered by the Rangers on opening day, allowing seven runs on 10 hits in just five innings. His next start was better but it was far from good as he gave up four runs on seven hits in five innings against Toronto. In his lone start against the Yankees last season, Lee was impressive as he shut New York out for seven innings while allowing just six hits and no walks. Prior to that however, he was 2-3 with a 6.82 ERA in six starts including a 1-2 record and an 8.79 ERA in New York.