After A.J. Burnett got touched up in Boston on June 9th, he tore off a run of eleven quality starts in twelve outings, a run that a hit a big road bump last Saturday, once again in a start at Fenway Park. This afternoon Burnett gets his first start since then, and I'm hoping that he'll kick up another string of outings like the one that followed his last Boston Massacre.
If Burnett's two previous starts against Texas this year are any indication, he has a good chance a starting another run today. Burnett made consecutive starts against the Rangers in late May and early June, going 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA over 13 innings of work in which he allowed 11 hits, 5 walks, and struck out 15. The June start was the one in which he earned a six game suspension, later reduced to five games, for retaliating on behalf of Mark Teixeira by doing a little head hunting against Nelson Cruz.
Six foot seven righty Dustin Nippert gets the nod for the Rangers. Nippert has never faced the Yankees and was on the DL until July this year, missing the first two series between these teams. Entering the season with a 6.42 ERA (70 ERA+) through 141.2 IP over parts of four Major League seasons, Nippert seems to have figured it out a bit better in 2009. In eleven appearances, seven starts, Nippert has a 3.95 ERA (114 ERA+) that's more than a run and a half better than any of his previous seasons. His peripherals suggest he's closer to league average than his ERA indicates, but this season could mark a turning point in his career. He'll battle a fellow West Virginian whenever Nick Swisher steps into the box today. Cue the dueling banjos.
With today being a day game after a night game, Joe Girardi hinted during yesterday's pre-game that Jorge Posada would have today off. Given that today is Burnett's first start since last Saturday's disaster, that news only served as further fuel to the media-driven fire that Posada can't call a good game and doesn't work well with the pitchers. Why this has been a recurring storyline over the course of the season, I cannot figure.
While Posada certainly won't go down in history as one of the game's greatest defensive catchers or most astute game callers, the guy isn't a liability behind the plate. Oh, that and he's carved out a borderline Hall of Fame career with his bat, and that's more than compensated for any defensive short comings, real or imagined. Just last year the Yankees caught a glimpse of life without Posada, and it wasn't a pretty experience. Has everyone forgotten about that already? The aggravation of a nagging finger inury last night will keep Posada out of the line up today. The Yankees, and their fans, had better hope that it doesn't sideline Posada for any extended periods down the stretch. They're not nearly as good without him.
Don't forget to come back at game time for our Fack Youk Live Game Chat.
With any luck, today will mark the last in string of death remembrance postings I've made this month. When the Yankees and Rangers had their first series this season, we chose Texas guitar slinger Stevie Ray Vaughan for one of the games. Today, on the nineteenth anniversary of his death, we'll go back to one of the most gifted musicians ever to put a guitar strap over his shoulder. SRV had put his personal demons to rest and had been playing with renewed purpose when he boarded a helicopter shortly after midnight on August 27, 1990. Taking off in a fog, the chopper failed to climb to a sufficient altitude during takeoff, and crashed into a nearby hillside. No one on board survived. Vaughan had written "Life Without You" as a tribute to a deceased friend, but after his own untimely death, it became like a self-penned elegy.
Oh now baby, tell me how have you been
We all have missed you, and the way you grin
The day is necessary, every now and then
For souls to move on, giving life back again, and again
Fly on, fly on. Fly on my friend
Go on, live again. Love again.