By Jon Lane
Game 1 of the two-game set is tonight with Andy Pettitte squaring off against Roy Halladay, who makes his first start in T.O. since surviving the trade deadline and remaining a Blue Jay. Red Sox-Yankees may begin on Thursday, but this series also carries plenty of intrigue.
? Nice pitching matchup tonight (YES HD, 7 p.m.): Andy Pettitte vs. Roy Halladay. Pettitte may be on his last legs, but so far so good in the second half. He comes off a strong game last Thursday in Chicago, two runs (one earned) on five hits in 6 1/3 innings during a tough-luck no-decision, and owns a 2.70 ERA in his last three starts – and has pitched into at least the seventh inning in all three. Speculation will increase from where I sit on whether this will be Pettitte’s final Major League season, but anything he provides down the stretch is critical. If the Yankees make the postseason, Pettitte will get a Game 3 start – or perhaps Game 2 – based on track record alone.
? Expect a packed house energized that the Yankees are in town and Doc Halladay (11-4, 2.68 ERA) is still a Blue Jay. Halladay is 16-5 with a 2.90 ERA in 34 games – 32 starts – versus the Yankees and 8-0 with a 2.10 ERA in his last 10 games against New York at Rogers Centre. The last time the Yankees saw Halladay in Toronto was May 12, when pitched a complete-game five-hitter in a 5-1 victory, but they did tag him for five runs in seven innings (three home runs) during a 6-5 July 4 win in 12 innings.
? We’re seeing Phase I of the Joba plan with the Yankees bumping him an extra two days to start Thursday against the Red Sox (while avoiding throwing Sergio Mitre out there). How the team actually manages this innings limit thing will be unveiled a little each time. If you notice, Phil Hughes has been getting a bit more work with each appearance (except yesterday).
Speaking of Mitre, he and his 7.90 ERA starts Wednesday. Unless Brian Cashman snags a veteran starter that clears waivers this month, he better hop Mitre shows dramatic improvement off a disasterous start Friday night (five runs on seven hits in three innings). Otherwise you’re looking at Kei Igawa (whoa boy) starting potentially key games.
? Heading into Showdown Thursday, the Red Sox play two games against the Tampa Bay Rays in St. Petersburg before flying into New York City. Both teams will have their hands full the next two days.