Yanks feast on Birds
Man, did the Yankees ever need a dose of the Orioles. Despite the makeover that manager Buck Showalter is trying to achieve in Baltimore, the Yankees seem to come alive when they see those orange and black uniforms.
The Yankees entered Wednesday night’s game with a .230 team batting average and off a two-hit shutout Sunday night at Boston. Two innings into the game, the Yankees had supplied A.J. Burnett a 6-0 lead, which gave the righthander room to correct his mechanics after throwing 53 pitches before the third inning.
When the mist cleared, the Yankees had a 7-4 victory that moved them into a first-place tie with the Orioles in the American League East. The Yanks have had 13 straight non-losing season series against the Birds and have won at least 11 games against Baltimore nine times in the past 10 seasons. The Yankees have won 25 of the past 32 games against the O’s and are 38-17 against them since the start of 2008.
Jorge Posada, with a home run and a single, and Mark Teixeira, with two singles, ended slumps of 19 and 18 at-bats, respectively. Back in the lineup after a bout of the flu, Alex Rodriguez hit his 617th career home run, a three-run, opposite-field job in the first inning that pushed his RBI total to 1,839 to tie Hall of Famers Al Simmons and Ted Williams for 11th place on the all-time list. With six more RBI, A-Rod will knock another Hall of Famer, Carl Yastrzemski, out of the top 10.
Also moving up a career list was Derek Jeter with two hits for 2,935 to tie Barry Bonds, who did not have as good a day in a San Francisco courtroom, for 32nd place in knocks.
Burnett had a sharp bite on his curve (sometimes too much, evidenced by three wild pitches) and his best changeup. He took a shutout into the seventh before losing it as he got to the 100-pitch area and was touched for two-run home runs by Matt Wieters and Brian Roberts. The victory improved Burnett’s record to 3-0 despite a 4.67 ERA.
The Orioles have historically been a good match for Burnett, who improved his career mark against them to 12-4, even though his ERA is a somewhat lofty 4.54. April has always been a good month for Burnett, who was also 3-0 last April and has a career mark of 19-9 with a 3.92 ERA in the season’s first month.
The question remains whether Burnett can maintain the consistency and not fall into the same traps that ruined 2010 for him. He is off to a promising start.