It was a blisteringly hot day in New York on Tuesday, and by game time, the evening provided no relief.
It did not stop Yankee fans from packing into the Stadium. A well-deserved welcome home for their first-place team from a successful road trip, and hoping to cheer the Yankee players to victory as they open a three-game set against the Boston Red Sox.
Finally getting threw a half an inning; the Yankees got a turn at the plate, only to watch the team’s best player Mark Teixeira take one in the knee from Boston ace Jon Lester. Tex fell down in utter agony, as Yankee fans hearts sank watching baseball’s best first baseman get carried off the field.
So not only did the Yankees lose the game 6-4 to the Red Sox, and have to endure Tex getting injured; now they share the top spot in the AL East with their rivals. A first place that the Yankees were in sole possession of just hours ago.
Now, Yankees Universe will look to the arm of AJ Burnett for some reprieve and a needed pick-me-up on Wednesday night.
Burnett has the advantage on the mound facing the oldest active MLB player, 44-year-old knuckle-baller Tim Wakefield. Wakefield has emerged as the emergency rotation filler, due to holes left by injuries and he has adapted to the role very well considering his prime was almost two decades ago.
Wakefield has made five spot starts for Boston, and three times it resulted in team wins. Wakefield has been more effective coming out of the bullpen, but over his five starts he has only given up three home-runs, seven doubles, 14 earned runs, walked eight and posts 28.5 innings pitching in total.
Not so great, but Wakefield is a hit or miss, but without his knuckleball that 70-73 mph fastball offers zippo refuge.
Skipper Terry Francona is not expecting milestones from Wakefield, but if he can eat six innings like he did in his last three outings that is just perfect enough for the Red Sox’s potent offense to win.
The Yankees will be looking to shutdown Boston’s bats to make Wakefield’s job harder and this was something that Burnett used to do to perfection as a Toronto Blue Jay. It was the selling point that yielded the Yankees to ink Burnett, as his success within the AL East was undeniable and specifically vs. the Red Sox.
Well, Burnett came into this season with less accountability than Wakefield. Through hard work and a desire, Burnett worked his butt off during the odd-season and he has without question righted himself mentally.
In 2001, Burnett has pitched 74.2 innings in 12 starts,
Out of every line-up in baseball, the Red Sox have the best odds of pushing the ‘new’ Burnett over the edge. Right now, that one disastrous, game changing inning that Burnett was renowned for has not reared it’s ugly head yet this season.
If he could blank the Red Sox Wednesday night, because that was the other thing Burnett had a reputation for doing. I have total faith Burnett will come up big, as he knows he can, but now it is about doing it for the team.
Burnett needs to throw first pitch strikes, because when he can get ahead in the count it translates into more strikeouts. Efficient and quick innings are when Burnett is at his best, and surely his once league-leading walk-rate being practically obsolete plays a part.
If the Yankee bats cannot hit the crap out of Wakefield’s anything to provide Burnett with some cushioning, the Yankees problems will go from normal to cause for concern in m mind.
Yankees will beat Red Sox 7-3; and A-Gone should be prepared to get hit by a fastball tomorrow, as Burnett doesn’t like it when he feels a teammate got bullied.
Even though Lester hitting Tex seemed unintentional, doing it again to Russell Martin in the same inning deserves retaliation from the Yankees, period.
- Rivalry resumes in Bronx with AL East lead on line (nypost.com)
- Series Preview: BOS @ NYY ~ 6/7/11-6/9/11 (yankeesfansunite.wordpress.com)
- New York Yankees Update: AJ Burnett Gets What He Deserves (ladylovespinstripes.com)
- MLB Power Rankings: American League East Starting Rotations (bleacherreport.com)
- New York Yankees: Will Boston Red Sox Overtake Surging Yankees for First Place? (bleacherreport.com)
- New York Yankees: Coming Home To No Relief (ladylovespinstripes.com)