Robertson Takes Hill
The Detroit Tigers' pitching staff has been outstanding at Yankee Stadium this week, just as it was 42 years ago when the team last swept a three-game series there.
Ending that drought could be a long shot with Nate Robertson going to the mound.
The sweep can happen for the Tigers if Robertson beats the Yankees in New York for the first time on Thursday night.
Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made New York -112 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 57% of bets for this game have been placed on New York -112 (View MLB Bet Percentages). Bet this game.
Detroit (13-15) has won two straight against the Yankees (14-15), posting its first series victory in the Bronx since taking two of three games from July 5-7, 2004. A victory in the series finale would give the Tigers a three-game road sweep of the Yankees for the first time since holding them to a total of five runs from April 12-14, 1966.
Pitching has helped Detroit take the first two games between the teams this season, holding the Yankees to a total of six runs and 13 hits - only three for extra bases. New York, playing its first game since Alex Rodriguez (quadriceps) went on the disabled list, was held to two hits after the first inning in a 6-2 loss to Detroit on Wednesday night.
But Robertson (0-3, 6.91 ERA), who will take the mound for the Tigers on Thursday, is 0-3 with a 6.97 ERA and a .363 opponent batting average in four starts at Yankee Stadium. He has lost four straight overall to the Yankees, and is 1-5 with a 4.86 ERA in seven career starts against them.
The left-hander is struggling this season, allowing at least four runs in each of his five starts. He gave up four runs and six hits in seven innings as Detroit lost 4-3 to the Los Angeles Angels on Friday night.
The Tigers, trying to bounce back after opening the season with seven straight losses, could certainly use a breakout start from Robertson. Detroit has won seven of nine despite missing starter Dontrelle Willis (knee), relievers Joel Zumaya (shoulder) and Fernando Rodney (shoulder), and catcher Vance Wilson (elbow).
"Our hitting and pitching is a lot better now," Detroit catcher Ivan Rodriguez said.
New York, meanwhile, has lost five of seven. The Yankees had to start Alberto Gonzalez at third base on Wednesday in place of Rodriguez, who went on the DL for the first time since July 2000 before the game. Catcher Jorge Posada also is on the DL with an ailing throwing shoulder.
"You lose those guys it's going to hurt your team," New York starter Andy Pettitte said. "You realize that but it's the same old story. Everybody has injuries and nobody's going to feel sorry for you."
Those injuries don't bode well for the Yankees' lineup, which has scored just 15 runs in its last five games. New York likely will need a strong performance at the plate to give struggling rookie Ian Kennedy (0-2, 8.53 ERA) a chance to win.
Kennedy has had a particularly tough time with his control, walking 17 in 19 innings. The 23-year-old right-hander gave up three runs, four hits and four walks in five innings as New York lost 4-3 to Cleveland on Saturday.
This will be Kennedy's first appearance against Detroit. He will be facing a Tigers team that is averaging 7.5 runs in its last eight games.
Placido Polanco homered twice and Marcus Thames also went deep for Detroit on Wednesday. Polanco is batting .455 (10-for-22) with two home runs, two doubles and five RBIs in his last five games.