By Jon Lane
A few quick hits to set the table for Game 2 of Yankees vs. Red Sox (YES HD, 7 p.m.):
David Ortiz is having a miserable season, but leave it to the Yankees
to be the antidote for his ills. Ortiz hit one to Cambridge Tuesday
night to bring his average against them to .304 (7-for-23) with a
homer, seven RBIs and four runs scored in the six games between the
rivals. I couldn’t kill A.J. Burnett for Ortiz going yard despite it
being a terrible pitch. After all, he is still Big Papi, but a two-run double to Nick Green in the third
inning that bumped Boston’s lead to 5-0? Absolutely inexcusable. To
think that one reason why Yankees signed Burnett was his success
against the AL East last season, along with the
if-you-can’t-beat-him-sign-him theory. In two starts against the Red
Sox, Burnett has allowed 11 earned runs in 7 2/3 innings, a 12.91 ERA.
My colleagues Jerome Preisler and Steven Goldman aptly sum up where
Burnett stands at this point.
It’s bad enough the Yankees are 0-6 against the Red Sox; any prayer they have of capturing the AL East, this has to improve – immediately. Tonight it’s hold your breath with Chien-Ming Wang taking the hill. Even during his peak performance, Wang is 3-3, 5.11 in seven career starts at Fenway Park, while Ortiz owns a .444 (16-for-36) lifetime average with two homers and four doubles against the right-hander. Keep your expectations in check, says John Flaherty, but Wang needs to perform. If not, Phil Hughes must be summoned at the first sign of trouble.
Amazing, the Yankees are winners of 19 of 26 and are tied for first place, but this has the settings of another panic attack if Wang can’t get it done. He may be limited to 85-90 pitches, but that sinker needs to be biting. At the very least Wang has to keep the Yankees in the game; Hughes, Alfredo Aceves and Mariano Rivera will be ready and rested. Of course it’ll help if the offense can muster more than two hits off Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield.