New York Yankees (1-2) @ Kansas City Royals (2-1)

Friday – 4:10 pm, TV: YES, Radio: CBS 880

Saturday – 7:10 pm, TV: YES, Radio: CBS 880

Sunday – 2:10 pm, TV:YES, Radio: CBS 880

Preview:

In a somewhat historic opening two weeks, the Yankees will take part in their second season opener Friday night when they begin a three-game series against the Royals in Kansas City.  The Yankees are coming off a strong win against the Orioles after losing the first two games by a combined score of 17-9.  The Royals are coming off two straight wins against the Chicago White Sox.

The interesting thing is that the two teams could not be more different.  The Royals have won based on defense and sold pitching.  Their pitching staff has allowed a total 14 hits in all three games and has struck out 25 batters.  Great domination.

In fact, the only reason the Royals did not sweep the ChiSox was because Kyle Farnsworth allowed a three-run HR to Jim Thome which erased a 2-1 KC lead in the eighth inning of game 1.

The Yankees lost their first two because of bad pitching and below average defense, but won their third because of their offense.  It will be intriguing to see how the Yankees approach the next three games.

CC Sabathia gets the start on Saturday so he can stay on track to start the opener at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.

The Pitching Matchups:

Friday: LHP Andy Pettitte (14-14, 4.54 in 2008) vs. RHP Sidney Ponson (8-5, 5.04 in 2008)

Saturday: LHP CC Sabathia (0-1, 12.46) vs. LHP Horacio Ramirez (1-4, 4.34 in 2008)

Sunday: RHP Joba Chamberlain (4-3, 2.60 in 2008) vs. RHP Gil Meche (0-1, 1.29 in 2009)

Who’s Hot:

Royals – The starting pitching staff:  The three starters so far have been very dominant, allowing only one run so far this season, while striking out 18.

Coco Crisp: The former Red Sox is hitting .364 in three games, leading the Royals.  He is getting on base a lot, but the Royals will need the next three guys in the lineup to step up if they expect to keep up with the Yankees offense.

Yankees – The Yankees Bullpen: The pen has been dominating, allowing only two runs in 11 1/3, while racking up 10 K’s.  Its a huge comfort knowing that while the season is young and the starters can’t go too deep in games that the pen can hold its own.

Nick Swisher, Derek Jeter and Robbie Cano: These three gentlemen are leading the team in batting average and are responsible for most of the Yankee runs scored this season.

Who’s Not:

Royals – The offense:  The team needs to wake up at the plate if it expects to beat the Yankees.  Even with the Orioles strong pitching in games 1 and 2 of the last series, the Yanks still managed 10 runs.

Yankees – CC Sabathia:  CC gets a chance to redeem himself Saturday after one of the worst outings of his career.  Although it would not be the end of the world if Sabathia does not win the game (remember he started 4-8 in ’08, but finished 17-10) but he would have to deal with a lot of pressure from the media if he doesn’t win.

Mark Teixeira and Hideki Matsui: The Orioles fans seemed to get to Teixeira in the first two games.  Either that or the pitching did it.  Either way the notoriously slow-starter needs to be a catalyst in the middle of the lineup.  With Damon and Jeter getting on base as often as they have, the Yanks need Teixeira to create some RBI.  Matsui is 1-10 in the cleanup spot and despite a two-run HR on opening day, he has been costing the Yankees runs.  This most likely led to Girardi starting Xavier Nady in the fourth spot instead of Matsui in game three of the last series.

Key to Winning the Series:

Royals: Find a way to get the offense to create more runs

Yankees: If the starting pitchers can give the bullpen a lead by keeping the KC bats in check, they will hold it.