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Saturday, May 28, 2011
W2W4: Yankees @ Mariners (Saturday)


Next up for the Yankees in their weekend of pitching powerhouses is Mariners ace Felix Hernandez. The Cy Young winner will try to better the effort of Michael Pineda, who was a bit wild in his first meeting with the Yankees. That was an outlier performance for a group of starting pitchers who have a 1.75 ERA and have averaged better than seven innings per game over their last 13 starts.

Felix Hernandez Matchup to Watch
Curtis Granderson started his career with eight hits in his first 12 at-bats against Hernandez, capped by a four-hit game against the righty in September 2007.

But since then, Hernandez has gotten the better of the matchup. Granderson is 3-for-22 with nine strikeouts since that offensive outburst. Thanks to Baseball-Reference.com and its matchup pages, we can tell you that the last 17 times Hernandez has gotten Granderson in a two-strike count, he's gotten him out.

Ivan Nova Matchup to Watch
Since pitching a two-hitter over 7 1/3 innings in a win over the Rangers on May 6, Nova has allowed 25 hits (and 12 runs) in 15 innings. His toughest challenge may be Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan, who is hitting .542 with 13 hits and six RBI during a seven-game hit streak. Amazingly, Ryan has almost as many hits in those seven games as he did in 76 at-bats in April (14).

That’s Why He's The King
Hernandez is 4-0 with an 0.51 ERA in his last four starts against the Yankees. In each of those starts against them, he has pitched at least eight innings and allowed one earned run or fewer. The last pitcher with a longer streak -- former White Sox knuckleballer Wilbur Wood from 1972 to '73 (five starts).

Jeter Watch
Since getting three ground-ball hits in last weekend's series against the Mets, Derek Jeter is 2-for-18 overall, and has made 10 straight outs when hitting the ball on the ground. His two hits in this stretch both came on line drives.

Jeter is a .304 career hitter against Hernandez, including two hits in eight at-bats last season. Of the last eight times Jeter has faced Hernandez, he has hit six ground balls and two line drives.

Better Get it All The Way Over the Fence
If you didn't see the great catch by Mariners center fielder Franklin Gutierrez against Nick Swisher last night, check out Web Gems.

Gutierrez tied for the major-league lead with three home-run robberies in 2010, but he’s not the only one on the Mariners who can go get the ball. Right fielder Ichiro Suzuki also had three homer robberies last season. He's yet to get one this year.

Stat of the Day
If Hernandez beats the Yankees, he will have something he's never had before -- a winning May. Hernandez enters the day 8-17 with a 4.70 ERA in May (2-2, 2.68 ERA this season). Fair warning for all teams who follow the Yankees next month: He's 15-3 career in June.