Yanks shoot for sixth straight win

By Jon Lane
A beautiful Wednesday morning here at Yankee
Stadium for the finale of the Yankees’ three-game set against the
Orioles. It’s A.J. Burnett on the bump for New York, which took over
sole possession of first place in the AL East last night for the first
time since June 8. Since Alex Rodriguez returned from the disabled list
one month earlier, the Yankees are 43-22, the best record in baseball.

Burnett
is 3-0 with a 2.39 ERA over his last four starts. According to STATS
Inc. he’s 8-1 with a 4.83 ERA in 10 career starts against the Orioles.
It was on April 9 in Baltimore when Burnett made his Yankees debut by
allowing two runs over 5 1/3 innings to earn an 11-2 win.

I’ll be back later with lineups and assorted team news, along with details of today’s installment of HOPE Week.
Yesterday, Alex Rodriguez, Joba Chamberlain, Andy Pettitte and Kevin
Long met a couple of inspirational people. Tom Ellenson is a Little
Leaguer with cerebral palsy. His father, Richard, created a device that
allows non-verbal individuals like his son to more easily communicate.
Tom and his friends from his Little League team were treated to lunch
at Out of the Kitchen in Greenwich Village before he and other children
with cerebral palsy participated in a rally and baseball clinic. The
photo below was provided by the Yankees.

hope_275.jpg12:58 p.m.
I
spent some time before the game in the Billy Martin suite covering
today’s HOPE Week event: the powerful story of George Murray, a
terminally ill ALS patient who to their surprise were welcomed by a
large contingent of family and friends – as well as Derek Jeter, Phil
Hughes, Brian Bruney, Hideki Matsui, Phil Coke, Cody Ransom and Mark
Teixeira.

George and his family were just shown on the Diamond
Vision, his 4-year-old son, Trason, sitting on his lap. Coke is on the
field behind home plate greeting George, Trason and Kim. This feature
will run on YESNetwork.com this afternoon.

1:27 p.m.
Some notes from Joe Girardi’s pregame press conference:

?
He’s not schizo like Oliver Perez, but when A.J. Burnett pitches he
either walks the earth or is electric, in other words he’s either feast
or famine. Girardi was asked what impresses him more, when Burnett is
completely dominant or if he has to gut it out.

In his last start on Friday, Burnett allowed three runs and six hits
with five walks in six innings, starting 15 of 27 batters with balls
and throwing 57 of 104 pitches for strikes. The start prior, Burnett,
walked four gave up seven hits and threw three wild pitches while only
striking out two in a 4-3 in over the Twins. 

“I think it’s more impressive when a guy has to gut his way through,
because sometimes the have to be more creative and they can’t just rely
on their stuff solely to get people out,” Girardi said. “You’re going to
get in some jams and have to figure out a way to get out of them.” 

Burnett
worked swiftly through the first inning, allowing only a one-out hit
while throwing eight pitches and earning the final two outs tossing
just two.

? Through one turn anyway, Joba Chamberlain, Andy
Pettite and Sergio Mitre assuaged concerns over the back end of the
Yankees’ rotation after Burnett and CC Sabathia.

“When everyone is doing their job, it takes a little bit of pressure
off the other starters in the sense of I have to win today,” Girardi
said. “By everyone doing their job, they’re able to concentrate more on
what they have to do that day.”

? Girardi appears a lot more relaxed and settled into his job compared to last year, but he mainains his demeanor is the same.

“I
think I’m pretty much the same guy I think I’ve learned a lot on how to
handle situations better, so I might appear to be a little looser. I’m
an intense guy who’s going to laugh and going to have fun, but there’s
an intensity in there.”

1:32 p.m.
Yankees blast rookie Jason Berken for four runs on six hits in the first, very encouraging considering their track record against pitchers they face for the first time. Berken has lasted past the fifth inning just once in his last five outings, going 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA in that span.  

1:36 p.m.
WEEI.com reports the Red Sox have acquired Adam LaRoche from the Pirates for two prospects. Adam’s brother, Andy, was part of last year’s three-team blockbuster that sent Jason Bay to Boston and Manny Ramirez to the L.A. Dodgers.

2:03 p.m.
From goat to hero: Nick Swisher pulls a Luis Castillo to start the third inning and a Willie Mays to end it.

2:47 p.m.
I’m back after filing my feature on George Murray and HOPE Week. Swisher with a leaping catch against the wall in right. When did he turn into Ichiro?

3:07 p.m.
Phil Hughes warming up with two out in the seventh inning of a 5-0 Yankees lead against a bad team. Why not give Mark Melancon some work? He’s probably here for only another week until Damaso Marte returns.

3:11 p.m.
5-2 Yankees. I’d bring him in now.

3:57 p.m.
Just when you think you’re in the clear, Brian Bruney gives up back-to-back jacks to Adam Jones and Nick Markakis. So effective early in the season, Bruney has completely lost it since coming off the disabled list for the second time. To protect what’s now a 6-4 lead, Joe Girardi was forced to summon Mariano Rivera, who benefits from any time off he receives.

5:05 p.m.
To cut Bruney some slack, today was his first appearance since July 10. And despite the back-to-back gopher balls Joe Girardi said it was the best stuff he’s seen from the struggling right-hander since he was activated from the DL June 17. Girardi added he’d make it a point to offer those words of encouragement, though Bruney went on to imply that he’s never been one who needs a pat on the back.

Nevertheless, Bruney, like Girardi, looked beyond the numbers. He’s been on the DL twice this season with muscle and elbow strains because he tried gutting it out instead of telling anyone. The layoff may have affected him to a certain extent, but today he felt life in his arm again.

“It feels like a long time since I felt pretty good,” Bruney said. “It’s not an issue of I’ve been healthy or not healthy. It’s just as a pitcher your arm feels a certain way and you can just tell the way your arm feels, and it just hadn’t felt right. I felt like I commanded the ball pretty well minus two pitches.”

Phil Hughes continues to be a revelation out of the bullpen. The right-hander tossed another scoreless inning, has not allowed a run in his last 14 outings and his current 20-inning scoreless stretch, dating back to June 10 at Boston, is the longest by a Yankees reliever since Mariano Rivera in 2005 (23), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. I chatted with Hughes, who owns a 0.81 ERA in 16 appearances, exclusively after the game and will have more on his story tomorrow.

2 Comments

I know a lot of people love Damon and Swisher to include the Yankees management, but, why in hell are those two clowns still in the big leagues? Especially on our team challenging for the post season? They both are barely AA players at best now and they are in our out field daily? They both are terrible, by the way, nice non catch Swisher, you swished again, and Damon. That’s why you have cut off men. So runner don’t advance against your weak arm. What do you do, you air mail the ball to Posada allowing the guy in first to advance. AJ has to work that much harder to pitch around these two idiots and he still has to pitch to the hitters too.
Can some one, please tell me why we have these two clowns on the roster still? Gardner is the best out fielder we have, and was hitting over .300 and Girardi stops playing him. Now Gardner isn’t getting at bats, and his average is suffering for it, and Swisher continues his march towards the award for the most strike outs in the American league. Unbelieveable. Screw pitching, Yankees, please make a trade for an out fielder who can not only be on the field, but catch the stinking ball, make throws to the right bases, and HIT!! Package up Damon and Swisher to sweeten up a deal. Get rid of them! please, before we get to the playoffs and they both tag team kill us!!

Let’s be thankful we don’t have any “executives” like the Mets’ Tony Bernazard running around talking to our minor leaguers. We don’t, do we? Let’s keep it rolling Pinstripes.

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