My favorite type of game to watch is a good pitchers duel. The game moves quickly, both pitchers are usually dealing, and you might even get a few defensive highlights.
Coming out on the losing end of a pitchers duel isn't quite as entertaining. And the difference for the Yankees last night wasn't a defensive highlight, but rather a lowlight on a blown routine flyball.
A.J. Burnett pitched extremely well: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K. He surrendered a solo HR to Dan Uggla in the second, then rebounded by recording 8 of his next 10 outs via Ks, including all three outs in both the third and fourth innings. His second run, an unearned run, came in the sixth, as Johnny Damon lost a Jorge Cantu flyball in the lights, allowing Hanley Ramirez to score from first. It's the second dropped flyball from Damon in less than two weeks and I can't help but wonder if he's still having trouble with his eyes.
As good Burnett was, Josh Johnson was better: 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K. The Yankees couldn't touch him early on, as he put down 11 in a row at one point, and 19 of the first 22 he faced. The Yankees finally pushed a run across in the seventh, using an RBI single from Nick Swisher to plate Jorge Posada.
With Johnson out of the game in the eighth, the Yankees threatened again. Hideki Matsui laced a pinch hit, leadoff single. Brett Gardner pinch ran and stole second. A-Rod pinch hit and worked a walk, putting two on with no one out. Derek Jeter was the next batter, and after showing bunt for a few pitches, grounded into his second doubleplay of the night. With the tying run on third, a Johnny Damon strikeout ended the inning.
The Yankees put the tying run on again in the ninth, this time with a Mark Teixeira leadoff single. But Jorge Posada popped to short and Robinson Cano grounded into the Yankees third doubleplay of the night to end the game.
A loss is never fun, but sometimes a team is just going to run into great pitching. The Yankees did last night, and they failed to capitalize on the few opportunities they had. There are a few positives to take out of the game: Burnett turned in a second straight outstanding start. Jorge Posada threw out both would-be base stealers, and worked extremely well with Burnett. Burnett was certain to give credit to Posada, both as he left the mound in the seventh and in his post-game comments. Phil Coke and Phil Hughes continued their stellar pitching out of the bullpen, combining for 1.2 IP of perfect relief, including 3 Ks.
In the end though, it was still a loss. The Yankees will need to take the rubber game today to avoid a second straight series loss to a sub-.500 team.