Monday, September 7, 2009

Game 139: Workin' Man Blues

Every team wants a split at worst heading into a double header, so in a sense, the Yankees are playing with house money as they wrap up their first twinbill since the final day of last season. A.J. Burnett goes against Andy Sonnanstine in the night cap of this Labor Day double dip.

Burnett needs to right his ship as the post-season approaches. After getting touched up in Boston on June 9th, Burnett went on a remarkable run of eight consecutive quality starts, during which he went 6-1 with a 1.68 ERA, culminating with seven innings of two hits, two walks, and one unearned run against the Rays on July 27th. Since then though, Burnett has struggled, going 0-4 with a 6.58 ERA is his last seven starts. Technically, he has four quality starts in that stretch, but his only impressive performance was his seven and two thirds of one hit shutout ball against Boston on August 7th. He'll look to right himself today, and thankfully for Burnett, he's 2-0 with a 2.14 ERA and 0.76 WHIP in three starts against the Rays this year.

For the Rays, Andy Sonnanstine is also trying to straighten himself out. After a respectable sophomore campaign in 2008 (13-9, 4.38 ERA), 2009 has been unkind to Sonnanstine (6-8, 6.62), so much so that he spent June 26th through September 1st in AAA. Even with his two month demotion, Sonnanstine has made three starts against the Yankees this year, two of which were pretty good, one of which was pretty bad. For the season, he's 0-1 with a 4.19 ERA and 0.98 WHIP against the Yanks. In his three year career, he's 2-2 with a 5.23 ERA in seven starts against the Yanks, but with a very respectable 1.09 WHIP.

As you likely noticed, Brett Gardner was activated in time for the afternoon game. Shelley Duncan was also recalled pushing the Yankees' roster to 33. For the Rays, Carlos Pena is done for the season after breaking two fingers during his lone at bat in game one.

If the goal for a team in a double header to work a split, the axiom for a player, as Ken Singleton has so often pointed out, is to get three hits. Derek Jeter took an oh-for in the opener, so he'll need his twentieth three hit game of the season to fill his quota. If he can accomplish that, he'll tie Lou Gehrig as the Yankees all-time hits leader.

Baseball's regular season is a six month long daily grind. On a day when most of us get a much-appreciated holiday, the Yanks have to play two for the first time all year. Thanks to big leads in the division and home field races - leads that both grew by a game this afternoon - and one game already under their belts for the day, the Yankees can afford to give a few guys a holiday tonight. Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Brett Gardner, and Eric Hinske will get the night off. But the Yanks still have to send nine men to the field, so Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera get to pull a double shift and put their noses right back to that grindstone. Here's hoping they can help A.J. Burnett solve his recent stretch of the blues.

It's a big job gettin' by with nine kids and a wife
Yeah but I've been a workin' man dang near all my life
And I'll keep on working as long as my two hands are fit to use
I'll drink a little beer that evening
And sing a little bit of these workin' man blues.

Well I keep my nose on the grindstone; work hard everyday
I might get a little tired on the weekend, after I've drawn my pay
But I go back to workin, come Monday morn I'm right back with the crew
I drink a little beer that evening
And sing a little bit of these workin' man blues.

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