CC Sabathia (8-6 4.15) has been super exposed by his critics all season long that he might be losing velocity on his fast ball. That perhaps age is finally catching up to him being in the league 13 years already. That the location on his pitches aren't hitting their spots as effectively as in his prime. However what most forget to realize is that this 32 year old 6'7" 300 lb monster has thrown 117 innings already and we still haven't hit the All Star break. He's also shooting for career win #200 and has been triumphant in nearly two thirds of his career decisions.
Winners of 8 straight lifetime against Minnesota, Sabathia hasn't exactly been the beneficiary of run support in 2013 which has seen the Yankees (44-39) fall victim to inefficiency, injuries and lack of production offensively. While the first 2 games of this series have so far been encouraging scoring 17 runs, the 4th place Yankees will look to continue to depend on their solid pitching as well as continue to produce in this 4 game series. Sabathia would appear to have a good chance to get back on track against a Twins team he's baffled in recent years. The former Cy Young Award winner has gone 8-0 with a 1.79 ERA in his last nine matchups with Minnesota (36-44), having his way with Justin Morneau (6 for 43), Joe Mauer (6 for 35) and Ryan Doumit (3 for 17). Sabathia has walked six and struck out 46 in his last 53 1-3 innings versus the Twins. Like NY, Minnesota has also struggled offensively hitting only .246 with 74 HR also averaging fewer than 4 runs per game.
Mauer (.318 8 27) leads the Twins in hitting, doubles, and runs scored at the top of the lineup but must get more protection and consistency from the table setters. Morneau (.284 4 48) hasn't exactly showed his usual clout when it comes to hitting HR but leads Minnesota in RBIs. With Josh Willingham (.224 10 37) missing 4 to 6 weeks with arthroscopic knee surgery, the Twins may need to rely heavily on Oswaldo Garcia (.290 6 25) who is a top young prospect outfielder who has shown resiliency at the plate. Trevor Plouffe (.269 7 30) has really come around after a slow start extending his hitting streak to 12 games. Brian Dozier (.232 7 28) and Ryan Doumit (.239 8 37) have gone through some good stretches but also need to contribute if the Twins plan to square the series while staying out of the AL Central cellar.
Tonight the Twins (36-44) send PJ Walters (2-4 6.03) to the hill. Walters has been anything but efficient over his last 3 outings yielding 16 ER in just 9 IP. He's 0-4 in five starts after winning his first two following his call-up from the minors in late May. The Yankees are hitting only .241 this season, scoring just under 4 runs per contest and have hit only 84 HR at the midpoint. Robinson Cano (.295 20 54) is once again giving New Yorkers hope hitting 3 HR in the first 2 games while going 10/17 (.588) on the first 4 games of the road trip. Brett Gardner (.283 7 31) continues to flourish in Joe Girardi's small-ball approach leading the team with 21 doubles and second with 11 stolen bases. We've also seen a resurgence from Ichiro Suzuki (.275 5 19) after a slow start while Lyle Overbay (.240 9 34) has done a good job at first base now that Mark Teixiera is lost for the season needing wrist surgery. Travis Hafner (.219 12 36) and Vernon Wells (.228 10 31) each got off to fast starts this season but have since mightily struggled at the plate. One prospect who is getting plenty of playing time is Zolio Almonte (.333 1 7) who looks and feels comfortable as the everyday left fielder.
Another quality price this evening with the venue of Target Field beneficial to hitters in the corners although the advantage swiftly shifts to the pitcher straight away in deep center. While CC hasn't been anywhere near his best this evening the Yankees will look to continue their more recent resurgence of offense to give CC the milestone this evening as well as getting the Yankees back in contention. With Walters struggles looming, it may give some of the utility hitters a chance to contribute until the big names and heavy artilery are set to return. Best of luck however you play!