Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Half Century Mark

A.J. Burnett was far from sharp tonight; wild was more like it. He walked four batters while only striking out two and whipped three wild pitches off of the artificial turf past the backhanded stabs of Jorge Posada. But in the end he was good enough.

The first of the wild pitches was erased after Burnett picked Denard Span off of second base in the first inning. His throw hit Robinson Cano's glove right on the bag at ankle level, and caught Span so off guard that he didn't even bother to slide.

In the top of the second, the Yankees loaded the bases with three one out singles by Matsui, Posada and Cano. Nick Swisher drove in a run with a slow chopper back to Anthony Swarzak, bringing up Brett Gardner with two outs. (According to Ken Singleton on the YES broadcast, Gardner came into the game leading all AL Rookies in on-base percentage, batting average, walks, stolen bases and runs scored. Surprising, yes?) He continued his recent hot streak by lofting a single to left, which scored Posada and Cano, making the score 3-0.

Burnett's wildness resurfaced in the third inning, but only after he had recorded two outs. After allowing a single and a stolen base to Denard Span, he walked Brendan Harris, bringing up Joe Mauer. He then threw two consecutive wild pitches, the first moving the runners to second and third and the next allowing Span to score. It might have cost Mauer an RBI because on the following pitch, he ripped an opposite field double to bring the Twins within one.

The Yanks struck again in the 5th, spearheaded by a leadoff double by Derek Jeter. Mark Teixiera followed that up with a one out walk and A-Rod drove Jeter in with a single. That would be the last batter Swarzak would face as he left the game after 4 1/3 IP, surrendering 4 runs on 8 hits.

Burnett settled down after his rocky 3rd inning, working scoreless a scoreless 4th, 5th and 6th. He got Brendan Harris to line out to start the 7th, but with Joe Mauer on deck and 3 for 3 on the night, Joe Girardi elected to call on Phil Coke to match up with the lefty. Burnett couldn't have done much worse, as Mauer took a 3-1 fastball out to the opposite field for a solo homer. Coke then retired Justin Morneau on a slider in the dirt for the second out of the inning. Girardi, again matching up, brought in Phil Hughes to face the righty Michael Cuddyer, who turned the first pitch he saw into a pop out.

Hughes came out for the 8th inning and needed only 7 pitches to take down the first two hitters. With Nick Punto and his abysmal 59 OPS+ coming to the plate, Ron Gardenhire decided to call on switch-hitting backup catcher Jose Morales to pinch hit.

Giradi countered with Mariano Rivera to get a four out save (more on this later), and like the unstoppable force that he is, Mo cut them down in order, including two strikeouts.

It was much more similar to the first four games the teams played against each other this year than the one last night, but the Yanks continued their dominance over the Twins on the season and pulled down win number 50 for 2009.

The Red Sox beat the A's 5-4 to remain one game up in the AL East. The Yanks will make the first move tomorrow, as they have a second weekday matinee of this week at 1:10.

1 comment:

  1. "It (sic) much more similar" ... blah blah dominance blah blah Twins blah blah Mo blah blah win 50...