Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Burnett Pitches Well, Delivers Baked Goods

For a good portion of tonight's game, it appeared that Phil Coke was going to be the goat. Luckily for him, someone who is all too familiar with playing that role for the Yankees bailed him out.

A.J. Burnett and Anthony Lerew locked horns in a somewhat unlikely pitcher's duel for the first six innings of the game. Burnett improved on his last outing, lasting 6 1/3 innings, allowing six baserunners and striking out 8. His power curve was on point, getting six of those K's via the hook, and five of those swinging.

Lerew's weapon of choice was the change up. He only struck out three, but kept the Yanks off balance all night, dispersing 5 hits and 2 walks over six innings and tossing 56 of his 92 pitches for strikes.

Mark Teixeira was waiting for one of those change ups from Lerew in the sixth inning. Although the pitch was nearly chest high, Teix took an uppercut swing at it and launched a line drive with heavy overspin off the concrete part of the wall in right center that nearly bounced into the bleachers. The solo shot tied the game at one, but the Yanks would surrender the lead in the next half inning.

Burnett came out for top of the seventh having thrown 96 pitches, but an 11 pitch at bat against Mark Teahen quickly escalated his count. After he got the next batter, John Buck, to fly out to center, Joe Girardi went to the mound for his starter, knowing it was unnecessary to extend him with nothing on the line.

In came Phil Coke, who immediately started off on the wrong foot. He got Alex Gordon to tap back to the mound, but took his time getting to the ball and allowed Gordon to reach on a single. Up next, Josh Anderson bounced one back towards Coke, who, in an attempt to facilitate a double play, proceeded to throw the ball into centerfield, allowing Teahen to score and both of the other runners to advance safely, thereby coughing up the lead.

It didn't end there, though. Still with only one out, Coke got Mitch Maier to ground back to him, but instead of throwing the ball home, where he surely would have caught Gordon, Coke fired to first, taking the easy out but allowing the run to score. The three lapses in concentration cost the Yanks the lead and on a cold night with many of the seats in the Stadium left unoccupied, it didn't feel as if the Yanks were going to rally.

Lerew came back out for the bottom of the seventh and quickly allowed a lead off homer to Nick Swisher, putting the Yanks and the crowd right back in the game. The Yanks put two more runners on base in the inning but couldn't plate either of them.

David Roberston returned to the mound for the first time since being sidelined with pain in his throwing elbow in the the eighth. He got Billy Butler swinging and Brayan Pena to ground out, but saw his pitch count climb to 19 after walking Alberto Callaspo. Not wanting to over-exert the righty in his first appearance back, Girardi called on Brain Bruney who gave up a single but escaped the inning without further damage.

Bruney worked through the 9th inning without giving up a run, preserving a one run deficit for the Yanks heading into the home half. Either oblivious to Kyle Farnsworth's history with the Yankees or anxious to tempt fate, Trey Hillman called on the former Yankee to protect the Royals one run lead.

After striking out Brett Gardner, Farnsworth gave up a dribbling single to Frankie Cervelli. Eric Hinske was called on to pinch hit and ripped a single into right field, placing the tying run on third base with one out. The offensive hero of the previous night's game, Robinson Cano laced a sac fly to deep center to even the score.

Johnny Damon was next up and Hinske, who hadn't stolen a base all year, took off for second. He appeared to beat the throw, but better yet, it sailed into centerfield and Hinske made an even ballsier move in taking off for third. The ball arrived in time but Alex Gordon failed to make a clean catch and tag him out.

Farnsworth intentionally walked Damon to bring up International League stud Juan Miranda. In an improbable conclusion to an unlikely rally, Miranda banged a liner off of Krazy Kyle's leg which deflected into foul territory far enough for Miranda to get to first base and the winning run to score.
Yanks win 4-3. Win number 103 and walkoff number 15 in the books. The games aren't meaningless when you win like this.


  1. Anyone else as happy as I was to see Farnsworth fail to close against us?

    As often as he played the goat for us, I admit that the emotion surrounding his departure softened my contempt towards him. However, I always hate the story line of the former, failed Yankee turning around with a new club and haunting us. Good to see that one not play out last night.

  2. Only issue with Burnett (via Sam Borden):

    "Burnett pitched to Jose Molina last night for the fifth start in a row. Now, one of those games (the first one) was part of a doubleheader and one of those games (the last one) came with Jorge Posada coming off a neck injury, so maybe it’s not anything more than circumstance.

    But if Joe Girardi thinks Burnett is more comfortable with Molina, that’s another (albeit smaller) reason to pitch him in Game 3 instead of Game 2. Having Posada’s bat out of the starting lineup twice in a five-game series is hard to imagine."

    Not good. I would liked to see Posada behind the plate last night.

    So do you sacrifice Jorge's bat for comfort behind the plate with Molina?

  3. Burnett's last five starts:

    August 27th was day game after a night game, September 7th was the second half of a double header, Sept 18th was during Jorge's suspension, the 23rd was another day game after a night game and last night Jorge didn't catch because of his neck.

    There's a reasonable explanation for every one. Even if Burnett starts twice in a 5 game series, there's not a chance Molina catches him both times.

  4. Word, I wasn't aware that Posada was held out for his neck last night. That obviously changes things.