Royale with Breeze: Yanks open KC series pressure-free

The Yankees who aren't still nursing a division-title-champagne-hangover will be taking the field tonight to open a 3-game set with the Kansas City Royals, currently the only AL team that hasn't had the pleasure of playing in the long ball brothel that is New Yankee Stadium.

They may be let off the hook tonight, with New York's big bad sluggers expected to catch up on sleep, while the Eric Hinske's of the squad act as true team players.

The unofficial lineup for tonight is a veritable doozy...

Brett Gardner CF
Melky Cabrera RF
Johnny Damon LF
Jorge Posada DH
Robinson Cano 2B
Eric Hinske 3B
Juan Miranda 1B
Francisco Cervelli C
Ramiro Pena SS

Juan Miranda? Who? I feel like my mom whenever she asks who I hung out with over the weekend.

"((Name of long-term acquaintance)). That's a new name. Do I know her?"

Our rabbit's foot pitcher Chad Gaudin (1--0, 3.71) makes his 6th start with New York. It's unbelievable how this newcomer has 1 win to his credit since being acquired from the Padres at the beginning of August, and it wasn't even in a game he started.

Which isn't even the weird part.

Despite a complete lack of W decisions, the Yankees are undefeated when he gets the nod to start.

I can't even try to wrap my head around why this is the case, because then that just makes me consider his pitching style, which is equally bizarre: it's like he can't log an out until the bases are rife with RISP.

What kind of pitcher is less effective when there's no one on?? I guess the same pitcher that can't get a win for himself, but hands them over in droves to his team. Yeah, it's making my head spin, and I wanted to use this week to do some mental house cleaning in my tangled web of baseball-stress.

Gaudin faces the Royals' Luke Hochevar (7-11, 5.98), a righty who has 1 career start against the Yanks to his name, but I'd refrain from using a 2008 game as an indicative barometer. Not only because we're playing in a whole new ballpark (literally), but because this is a brand new Yankee team (literally. Again, Juan Miranda?).

But despite their somewhat diluted lineup, the Yanks are still favored at 61%. Just as Gaudin is most effective after he works himself into a jam, the Royals are most effective when they're facing a team clawing its way to a playoff spot.

In the last 2 weeks, they've taken 2 of 3 from Boston, and their win over Minnesota last night put a temporary kabosh on the Twinkies' primetime op to gain ground on Detroit.

With New York happily ensconced at the AL East pinnacle, KC may want to think about trotting out their B-listers, too. Save the talent for your upcoming Minnesota series.

There are no small games. Just small players.

The division may be locked up, but for my money, I'd take a win over a loss pretty much 10 out of 10 times.


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