The Yankees. who are now 7-6 after opening the season with 13 games in as many days, finally had their first off-day on Monday. They should be even more rested as Tuesday night’s game against the Chicago Cubs was rained-out. To make up for the cancellation, Yankees and Cubs play a day-night doubleheader on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium.
The Yanks are coming off of a big series victory over the Boston Red Sox this past weekend in which they took three of the four games in the Bronx. The pitching really came through in that series, as did the offense, which seems to be heating up with the long ball after not hitting a home run until the sixth game of the season.
The Cubs, meanwhile, are 4-8 on the year and have lost three of their last four games.
Here are some things to watch for today:
Tanaka Day: Masahiro Tanaka will start the first game for the Yankees at 1:05pm. Tanaka has looked very good in his first two starts of the season (3.21 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 14 innings pitched), and now we’ll get to see how he handles the Cubs, who aren’t as good as the Blue Jays and Orioles lineups he’s faced.
In his last start against the Orioles at Yankee Stadium, he went home with a no-decision, but struck out 10 batters in seven solid innings. The only blemish on his line was the three-run homerun he gave up to Jonathan Schoop in the 2nd inning.
He could have been a better with his command, but he still showed a lot of promise as he has every time he’s taken the mound.
It’ll be interesting to watch Tanaka face the Cubs, since Chicago was one of the highest bidders for him during the offseason when he was posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
The Cubs were quite serious in their pursuit, but the Yankees wanted him more, giving him a seven-year, $155 million contract to lock up his very valuable services.
Pineda: Getting the ball in Game two, which starts at 7:05 pm, is right-hander Michael Pineda who has been as good (if not better) than Tanaka through his first two starts of the season.
Coming off of shoulder surgery, the Yankees were hoping that Pineda would finally be able to be the top-level starting pitcher that they acquired from the Seattle Mariners in 2012 and now that we’ve finally seen him in action, he hasn’t disappointed.
Through his first two starts, the big righty has given up just two runs in twelve innings pitched, while striking out 12 and walking just 2 batters. His velocity appears to be coming back as well. He sat mostly in the 92-94 MPH range and topped out at 96.6 according to BrooksBaseball.com.
Soriano reunion: Alfonso Soriano will be facing his former club, the Cubs, for the first time since they traded him to the Yankees last July.
Soriano has provided the Yankees’ lineup with some much needed power since returning. He’s hit 20 home run during his second stint in the Bronx — the most by any player over that span.
“It looks like a deal that worked out for both sides,” Cubs President Theo Epstein told ESPNChicago.com’s Jesse Rogers on Monday.
“He had a no-trade clause and the Yankees were a team he felt comfortable with. We were in talks for a while. They said no to all the players [we asked for], including Corey Black. And then eventually they said they would do Black.”
On another note, Soriano told ESPN’s Buster Olney that he’s likely to retire after the 2014 season if he has a poor year, but will continue to play for another year or two if this turns out to be a good year for him.
After a slow start, he has heated up over the past seven days, batting .304 with three home runs and four RBIs.
Jeter’s health: It appears that Derek Jeter will be missing from the Yankees lineup for the third game in a row. He sat out Saturday’s day game as scheduled, but did not play in Sunday night’s game against Boston because of a tight quad and it now appears that he won’t be in the lineup for game one.
It was originally anticipated that Jeter would play on Tuesday before the game was rained-out, which makes his absence a surprise. If he doesn’t play in the second game, it might be time to start wondering if the disabled list is a likelihood.
Through 10 games this season, Jeter is hitting .284 with two doubles and one RBI.
Game 1, 1:05 pm ET: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (1-0, 3.21 ERA) vs RHP Jason Hammel (2-0, 2.63 ERA)
Game 2, 7:05 pm ET: RHP Michael Pineda (1-1, 1.50 ERA) vs LHP Travis Wood (0-1, 2.92 ERA)