What a strange series. On Friday, the Yankees won a game they should have lost. On Saturday, they lost a game that, on paper at least, they should have won. On Saturday they were held at bay by an emergency starter they should have beat up on. On Sunday they hung a career high 9 ER in 3 IP against one of the top starters in the game.
Two innings were key to this afternoon's game. In the bottom of the second, with the game still scoreless, the Yankees had runners on first and third with two outs and #9 hitter Francisco Cervelli at the plate. Cervelli took a 1-2 change-up and dropped a blooper into short right field to plate the first run of the game. Derek Jeter followed with an RBI single, then Johnny Damon singled in both Cevelli and Jeter. The inning may had carried on, but Damon was called out at second for knocking the ball out of SS Alex Cora's glove. Replays showed it to be a borderline call, but it too closely resembled A-Rod in the Series That Shall Not Be Named.
Spotted to a 4-0 lead, A.J. Burnett responded by sandwiching two walks around a single to leave himself with a bases loaded, no out jam. He wriggled out of it, striking Alex Cora out with the benefit of two borderline calls, whiffing Fernando Martinez, and getting a Carlos Beltran liner right to Jeter.
It was all over from there. The Yankees added nine more runs in the third and two in the seventh en route to a 15-0 victory. Hideki Matsui and Robinson Cano both hit 2 run homers. Jeter had four hits; Cano and Cervelli three each; Damon and Melky Cabrera two each. Every starter had a hit save for Nick Swisher, who walked twice and scored twice. The game got so good for the Yanks that Angel Berroa was allowed two plate appearances. Ramiro Pena also got into to the game and started a beautiful double play to end the top of the seventh.
Burnett recovered from his rocky third inning to turn in seven shutout innings, allowing four hits, four walks, and striking out eight. The walks are a little higher than you'd like to see, and he still needed 110 pitches (60% strikes) to get through seven, but overall he gave the team just what they needed: length. He was followed by David Robertson and Phil Hughes both of whom struck out two in working a scoreless inning.
It's been a rough week in Yankeedom. They were swept in brutal fashion by the Red Sox to fall to 0-8 against them on the year. They played two lackluster games against the Mets. They got into verbal spats in the papers in near physical spats on the field (more on that tomorrow). They needed a game like this. It'll certainly make tomorrow's off day all the more enjoyable and leave them in a good spot as the lowly Nationals come to town Tuesday.