Previewing Sunday Night Baseball: Yankees at Mets

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With the Yankees and Mets less than an hour from first pitch, here’s a few things to consider:

On the bump:

Livan Hernandez (5-2, 4.05) hopes to salvage one for the Mets.
Hernandez allowed three runs — two earned — over seven innings in a
loss to the Cardinals in his last start. It was his first loss since
April 23. Hernandez has become a real workhorse for the Mets, logging
86 2/3 innings this season — second on the team. He has never beaten
the Yankees in six career starts. He took a no-decision against them on
June 12, allowing six runs over 5 1/3 innings.

Chien-Ming Wang (0-6, 11.20) is still in search of his first
victory. He threw his best start of the season last time out, holding
the Braves to three runs over five innings, striking out four while
walking just one. Considering his rough start, Wang was very effective,
throwing 42 of 62 pitches for strikes. Wang is 0-3 with a 7.27 ERA in
four starts since returning from the bullpen. Wang is 1-1 with a 4.96
ERA in two career starts against the Mets.

Back in the lineup:

– Derek Jeter, who missed the two previous games due to a severe
headache, fever and cough, is back in the lineup and will leadoff on
Sunday. Jeter is enjoying an excellent season, batting .308/.377/.451
with nine homers, 30 RBI, 47 runs scored and 17 stolen bases. He is the
all-time leader with a .385 career batting average against the Mets.

The Replace-METS:

– The injury-riddled Mets are just 9-for-87 (.103) with one home run over their last three games.

Yanks take season series:

– The Yankees are 4-1 against the Mets
this season. This is the first time they have won the season series
against the Mets since 2003.

Fantasy angle:

– Alex Rodriguez is 11-for-19 with three homers and 10 RBI against Hernandez in his career.

– David Wright is ninth in the majors with a .370 batting average this month.

Struggling Francisco Rodriguez’s job seems to be secure

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Tigers closer Francisco Rodriguez continued to struggle on Thursday, allowing a run in a 2-1 loss to the Mariners. It’s the sixth time in nine appearances that the right-handed veteran has allowed a run, bumping his ERA up to 6.23. He’s blown two saves and has two losses on the year.

Despite that, it doesn’t sound like Rodriguez’s job as the Tigers’ closer is in any jeopardy, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reports. When asked how much of a leash Rodriguez has, manager Brad Ausmus said, “I’ll let you know.” Ausmus continued, “I think people have short memories. This guy did a pretty good job for us last year. Early on, people were worried because the velocity was down. Well, the velocity is back.”

“But at some point,” Ausmus said, “he does have to pitch the way he pitched last year, because he did an outstanding job for us last year and in a city that has been looking for a closer that was consistent for a long time, he was that.”

Rodriguez, 35, doesn’t have the stuff he once did. And the Tigers do appear to have someone who would be a better option in high-leverage situations. Lefty Justin Wilson has thrown 9 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings so far this season with 15 strikeouts and three walks. But for now, it sounds like Rodriguez will be free to work through his issues.

The Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field

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Don’t look now, but the Nationals have the best record in baseball at 16-6. They’re coming off a 10-game road trip in which they went 9-1, including sweeps of the Braves and Mets and a 3-1 series against the Rockies at Coors Field. During that series with the Rockies, the Nationals scored 46 runs, which is nearly as many as the Royals (54) have scored all season long. The Nats scored double-digits in all three wins.

The first game at Coors, an 8-4 loss, saw a three-hit game from Anthony Rendon and a homer from Ryan Zimmerman.

The second game featured Trea Turner hitting for the cycle and driving in seven runs. Daniel Murphy had three hits and five RBI.

The third game saw Turner finish a triple short of the cycle. Bryce Harper had four hits. Zimmerman had three hits including a homer. Murphy homered, too.

The fourth game featured homers from Adam Eaton, Harper, and Murphy. Seven members of the lineup had multiple hits and six had multiple RBI including pitcher Gio Gonzalez.

The series helped the Nationals bring their run differential to +34, the best in the National League. The Yankees are the only team with a better differential at +35.

Indeed, the Nationals are sad to be leaving Coors Field. They return home to open up a three-game set with the ailing Mets on Friday night.