The Baseball Notebook

April 9, 2010 2:36 PM

Week One: Weekend Preview

The big matchup this weekend is the Yankee trip south to Tampa, as the defending champs try and get road wins against both big divisional rivals to start the season. The Saturday game will be the main Fox-TV game broadcast to the country, although it's likely to be the worst of the three. Sabathia goes back to the mound against Tampa's fifth starter, Wade Davis. Even allowing for C.C.'s customary slow starts, this one looks like a msimatch. Friday and Sunday's games look very compelling. Tonight you have David Price and Javier Vazquez, two pitchers with a little something to prove. Price, that he is ready to step up and become a big-time starter. Vazquez, that his success in Atlanta can be replicated facing American League lineups. Then in the finale, Matt Garza and A.J. Burnett face off. In the everyday lineup, this series also showcases the battle of third

baseman, with A-Rod and Evan Longoria. As much success as Rodriguez had in October, dispelling his demons, it's time to wonder if Longoria is ready to step up and assume his place at the top of the list of American League third baseman (and all of baseball for that matter).

St. Louis-Milwaukee is the showcase series of the National League, being the featured ESPN game on Sunday night prime-time. My former hometown in Milwaukee should get a hitting display put on, as you have Pujols and Holliday arrayed againt Fielder and Braun. The key difference between these lineups and AL lineups is the depth level behind them. And the key difference between these two teams is elite arms at the top of the rotation. Friday and Saturday's games should be good, but the Brewers need to focus on winning both if they want to take the series. Sunday night sends Chris Carpenter to the hill, who was great in his 2010 debut, against Randy Wolf who was not.

Other matchups worth keeping an eye on include Seattle-Texas in the AL and Atlanta's visit to San Francisco in the National League. The former is the two teams hoping to challenge the Angels' in the AL West and both stumbled out of the gate. Seattle lost three of four to Oakland and Texas dropped two of three to Toronto. Over the course of a long season, a criteria I tend to use to evaluate problems is that losing one series has to be written off. Losing two in a row officially makes it time to at least raise an eyebrow and say you're wallowing in the muck a little bit. That approach seems to provide reasonable balance between not overreacting, but also not blithely dismissing early losses. Which makes this a "plant your feet" series between the AL West hopefuls. The opposite is true in the NL, where Atlanta blew out the Cubs to start the season and then split two nail-biting pitcher's duels to get the series' win. San Francisco swept Houston

three straight and throws Tim Lincecum on Sunday against Derek Lowe, who was hideous in the opener, even if the Brave bats bailed him out. A nice security blanket for the Giants to have at the end of the three-game set.

See you Sunday night to wrap up Week One.

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