This hasn't been a typical CC Sabathia season, not with his game log dotted with games in which he's allowed seven, six, five (twice) and four (five times) runs. The left-hander's ERA is 4.15, higher than any season ERA since he was a 21-year-old breaking in with the Indians in 2002. He's allowed 17 home runs already; his career-high is 22, set last year, so he's giving up more instant offense than ever before.
Not that any of that matters against the Twins, who have long been Sabathia's favorite toy. The Yankees' ace is unbeaten in his last 11 starts against Minnesota, including the postseason, going 10-0 in that stretch with a 1.96 ERA in 78 innings. Only two current Twins, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, were on the roster the last time the Twins beat Sabathia, back in 2007 when he was with the Indians.
With that track record, P.J. Walters has a real challenge ahead of him tonight, as he tries to maintain his grasp on a spot in the rotation. The Twins have already announced that Mike Pelfrey will start Saturday in Toronto and Scott Diamond will start Sunday, and while those plans could change -- heck, I've even heard a six-man rotation until the All-Star break discussed -- it sure looks like tonight might be Walters' last start here for awhile. After giving up 16 runs in 9 1/3 innings over his last three starts, he desperately needs a strong outing tonight.
Sabathia, meanwhile, will be trying for his 200th career win, which would make him just the eighth pitcher since 1961 to win 200 games before his 33rd birthday.
The Twins have Clete Thomas in right field tonight, with Aaron Hicks in center, the first time they've used that alignment this year. Joe Mauer is the DH, with a day game coming tomorrow, and Ryan Doumit is the catcher. Manager Ron Gardenhire was saying before the game that Oswaldo Arcia feels more comfortable in right field than left, but with Josh Willingham on the disabled list, "he's going to be out there quite a bit."
The Yankees have made a roster move, adding five-year major-league veteran Luis Cruz and putting him at shortstop tonight, one day after Alberto Gonzalez drove in three runs. Jayson Nix has been moved to the 15-day disabled list.
Tonight's lineups as the Twins try to break a three-game losing streak: