New York Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox Preview and Pick – (Mike Mussina vs. Javier Vazquez)

New York Yankees (11-10) +130, o/u 9 at Chicago White Sox (11-8), 7:10 pm Eastern Wednesday, ESPN
by Zman of

The Alex Rodriguez-less New York Yankees go looking for their third win in a row when they take on the Chicago White Sox in the middle game of a three-game set at US Cellular Field Wednesday night.

Sportsbooks list Chicago and Javier Vazquez as -140 home favorites for Wednesday’s game, with a total of 9 , while the Yanks and Mike Mussina are getting around +125 as road underdogs.

New York won the series opener Tuesday night 9-5 on the strength of three home runs, including a grand slam by Bobby Abreu. So going into Wednesday’s action, the Yankees sit in third place in the AL East, 3 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox, while the White Sox lead the AL Central by a game and a half over the second-place Minnesota Twins.

Last year, New York took the season series from Chicago six games to four. The o/u went 3-5-2 in those 10 games, despite their averaging 11.1 total runs per.

The Yankees are 6-6 on the road this season, 9-12 vs. the run line and just 1-4 as underdogs. Meanwhile, the White Sox are 4-4 at home this year, 4-3 as favorites and 12-7 vs. the run line.

Mussina (1-3, 5.75, 1.38 WHIP this season) has had a rough go of it so far in 2008. Over his last three starts, including a three-inning stint in a loss to Boston last Thursday, Mussina has allowed 10 ER and 18 baserunners (hits + walks) in 14 2/3 IP. New York is 1-3 in Mussina’s starts this year, the o/u 1-3.

Mussina made three starts vs. the ChiSox last year, allowing nine ER and 18 BR in 17 1/3 innings of work. The Yanks went 2-1 in those three starts, as did the over/under.

On the other side of this pitching match-up, Vazquez (3-1, 3.20, 1.14) has been solid so far in ’08. Over his last three starts, which includes a winning performance at Tampa Bay last Friday, Vazquez has given up five ER and 20 BR in 20 1/3 IP. The Sox are 3-1 in Vazquez’ starts this year, the o/u a perfect 4-0.

Vazquez made one start vs. the Yankees last year, allowing four ER and 10 BR in six innings of a 5-1 Chicago loss.

Offensively speaking, New York ranks 13th in the majors in team OBP at .336, 8th in team slugging at .434, and is averaging 4.5 runs per game. On the other line-up card, the White Sox rank 10th in OBP at .341, 9th in slugging at .429, and are averaging 5.4 RPG.

On the injury front, the Yanks will again be without Rodriguez, who popped a quad the other day, and isn’t expected back until at best later this week. And catcher Jorge Posada has missed recent action with a sore shoulder.

The New York bullpen has given up 10 ER and 30 BR over the last five games, covering 19 IP. Meanwhile, the Chicago pen has allowed eight ER and 20 BR over its last five games, covering 11 2/3 innings of work.

The o/u is a surprising 6-15 in Yankees games this season, which are averaging 9.1 total runs, while the totals are 10-9 in White Sox games, which are averaging 9.3 runs. And games played at US Cellular Field last year averaged 9.8 total runs.

Zman’s Pick: No Arod for the Yankees tonight and a very vulnerable Mussina on the hill (he should retire) makes us think the Sox have decent value tonight.