Interleague play is back, and the Yankees continue their tour of the dregs of Major League Baseball this weekend with what feels like a gift three-game set against the Houston Astros.
I am attending tonight's game, and in an absurdly bizarre twist of fate, happened to be at the Stadium for a game the one and only time the Astros previously visited the Bronx for a three-game set, back in 2003. The game I attended? The six-pitcher no-no, which was the last time a no-hitter took place at Yankee Stadium. The date of that game? June 11, 2003, which means today is the 7th anniversary of that game!
However, I think it's safe to say that despite all of the eerie coincidences, I will not personally bear witness to the 2010 version of the Astros tossing another no-hitter against the Yankees this weekend, or anytime soon.
On a personal level, I find it a bit disheartening that the Astros are so bad this year. My wife is originally from the Houston area, and so I've been down to visit numerous times over the past few years -- not to mention the fact that we got married in Houston last year -- and I've come to consider Houston my adopted hometown and the 'Stros as "my NL team," as if I were to ever actually waste my time following the National League. I'm 1-1 all-time at Minute Maid Park -- with Wandy Rodriguez starting both games -- with a win against the Mets and a loss to the Dodgers.
Brett Myers (3.01 ERA; 3.51 FIP; 3.81 xFIP) faces Andy Pettitte (2.47 ERA; 3.86 FIP; 4.00 xFIP) tonight, and this is actually the match-up I'm most worried about. In addition to the aforementioned no-hitter-anniversary coincidences, the last time I saw Brett Myers pitch against the Yankees in person at Yankee Stadium on a Friday was May 22, 2009, and he held them to three runs over eight innings. Additionally, Myers has been the best starter on the Astros' staff this season -- check out the beastly FIP and xFIP -- and he has lasted at least six innings in all 12 of his starts. Why didn't the Phillies hold on to this guy?
The Yankees' saving grace is that they get to counter with Andy Pettitte, who as we know has been having a season for the ages and currently boasts the third-best ERA in the American League. The Yankee offense seems to love going into comas against pitchers like Myers, but they should be able to pull this one out, especially given Houston's putrid bats.
On Saturday, Wandy Rodriguez (4.95 ERA; 4.00 FIP; 4.33 xFIP) faces Javier Vazquez (5.63 ERA; 5.36 FIP; 4.56 xFIP). Not really sure how to call this one. As I mentioned, I've seen Wandy Rodriguez pitch in person probably more than any other National League pitcher, and he's never appeared to be anything special. If Home Run Javy can continue his most recent run of effective starting, the Yanks should take this one as well.
And in the finale, Brian Moehler (6.12 ERA; 4.63 FIP; 4.85 xFIP) takes on Phil Hughes (2.71 ERA; 2.77 FIP; 3.66 xFIP). On paper this looks like a disaster for the 'Stros -- Moehler has tossed 32.1 innings of 6.12 ERA ball, although with an average fastball of 87.3 mph he could be yet another in a long line of junkballers that the Yankees have no idea how to hit.
The Astros get to do battle against Phil Hughes and his third-best-in-the-AL 2.77 FIP and sixth-best ERA. Houston, you have a problem.
Here's how the Yanks have fared against the Astros historically:
The Yankee and 'Stros obviously have barely any history together -- aside from the 2003 no-no, perhaps the only other significant event that occurred in a game between these two teams was Chien-Ming Wang suffering his season-ending injury circling the bases back in 2008.
Here are the two teams' offense and pitching numbers:
So just as I was starting to rethink my stance on just how bad Houston was after looking at the pitching match-ups, I finally took a look at the team offense. Holy hell is Houston terrible with the stick! DEAD LAST in all three triple-slash stats, not to mention an MLB-worst .281 wOBA! The Astros are essentially running NINE Randy Winns out there on a daily basis!
While the Astros have somewhat respectable numbers in a few pitching categories, their staff still gives up a ton of hits and puts a lot of runners on base (1.46 WHIP!), never a good sign when facing the top OBP team in baseball, not to mention th--OH MY GOD HAVE YOU SEEN THAT WOBA?
Wow. Just, wow. 7-year no-hitter anniversary notwithstanding, and even with Brett Myers' previous ownership of the Yanks, the Yankees really have no excuse not to sweep the ever-loving crap out of this Astros team this weekend.