NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – The Yankees are a confident bunch despite an up-and-down first two months to the 2011 campaign.
“I think we’re going to play better,” manager Joe Girardi said earlier this week. “It’s baseball. You’re going to go through the weeks where you struggle. It is what happens in the game. You can’t expect to win five out of seven games every week the whole year.”
The high-priced 27-21 Yankees know they haven’t played up to par. But they’re in good position to pull away from the Red Sox in the AL East if they can get a streak going. Only .003 percentage points separate the rival teams.
“We have everything that we need to win here,” said Mark Teixeira. “It’s on us. Once the season starts, it’s on us.”
“Every team struggles,” said Derek Jeter. “Every team has periods where they play well and periods where they play poorly. We, by no stretch of the imagination, think that we’ve been playing good. If you’re able to play a little inconsistent and still be in first place you look at it as a positive.”
The Bombers can get it started Friday night when they open a three-game set against the Mariners at Safeco Field.
“We have a lot of talent in here, but overall I don’t think we’ve played up to our ability,” said Teixeira. “We expect more out of ourselves and out of the team.”
No team has played fewer road games than New York, which is beginning a nine-game West Coast trip. The Yankees have won five of their last seven on the road.
“Sometimes, it’s good to get out on a trip like this as a group where there are no distractions,” Girardi said. “It’s only your club together and it can be a good thing.”
Andruw Jones had two of New York’s three homers in Wednesday’s 7-3 win over Toronto. The Yankees have won seven of nine overall following a season-worst six-game slide.
New York went 6-4 against Seattle last season, losing three times to Felix Hernandez – Saturday’s starter – and once to Cliff Lee. Robinson Cano batted .282 with 12 RBIs and Mark Teixeira hit .405 in the season series.
Ichiro Suzuki hit .381 against New York last year, but he’s currently at a career-low .281 and is trying to avoid going hitless for a third straight game for the first time since May 1-3, 2007.
The Mariners superstar is 8 for 18 in his career against A.J. Burnett (5-3, 4.02), who seeks consecutive wins. Burnett limited the Mets to three runs over 6 1-3 innings in Saturday’s 7-3 victory.
The veteran right-hander is 0-5 with a 5.82 ERA in his last 10 road starts. He’s 2-2 with a 3.83 ERA in six outings against Seattle.
The Mariners, opening up a 10-game homestand against AL East foes, are eager to see how they measure up against New York.
“I’m excited for pitching (against) the Yankees,” Friday’s starter Michael Pineda said.
What’s your prediction for Yankees-Mariners? Let us know in the comments below…
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