Today was A.J. Burnett's turn to attempt to show Yankee fans what kind of an asset he will be to the team. Burnett thrived in the pressure-packed situation earning the Yankees' first victory of 2009, and helped to avoid serious causes of concern from Yankee brass. Burnett was also helped by his offense who scored him eleven runs in the game.
Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher each notched their first dinger with the Yanks in the fourth inning to put them up 3-1. Teixeira's hard leadoff single to right forced Alfredo Simon out of the game in the sixth inning. Three singles, a walk and an error later, the Yankees were up 7-2. Robinson Cano's two-run homer in the seventh, and Swisher's two-run double in the ninth gave the Yankees all they needed. An 11-2 victory. Full box score here.
It's about time. Although, to be completely honest, it would not have been that terrible to start out 0-3. As I learned from The Yankee Years, the '98 Yanks started out 0-3 and ended up winning 125 games that year (the most in MLB history). Anyways, I thought Burnett looked brilliant, and he was not about to let the wimpy Orioles sweep the Yankees. He is an intimidating pitcher, and his high strikeout totals make him even more fierce. Once Simon departed, the Yanks took advantage of a week Oriole bullpen. It could have been a lot worse for the O's if Jeter didn't ground into an inning-ending double play in the sixth.
- Swisher took advantage of Hideki Matsui's day off, as he compiled a monster line. He went 3-for-5, with 5 RBI and 2 Runs scored.
- Cano had a huge line as well, getting on base four out of five times, and coming around to score all four times. The Orioles pitching didn't slow him down at all, as he went 6-for-11 in the series.
- Burnett's tantalizing slider and explosive fastball made him fun to watch. His nasty stuff brought him six strikeouts in only 5 1/3 innings. He left after allowing seven hits on 96 pitches.
- The bullpen was perfect, literally. Phil Coke, Jose Veras, Brian Bruney and Mariano Rivera sent 11 consecutive Oriole batters back to the dugout, striking out six in the process.
The Yankees fly out to Kansas City to take on the Royals for a three-game weekend series. Andy Pettitte will make his '09 debut against our old friend from Aruba, Sidney Ponson. First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m. EDT.