May 28, 2009

Matsui goes deep twice in win, Yanks tied for first

The Yankees (27-20) defeated the Rangers (27-19) 9-2 behind four home runs —two from Hideki Matsui— and shutdown pitching by A.J. Burnett.  Since the Red Sox lost to the Twins, the two rivals now share the top spot in the AL East.

Quick ‘Cap:
A first inning two-run homer from Mark Teixeira gave Burnett some confidence early on, and Derek Jeter’s RBI double in the second made it 3-0.  Burnett pitched six scoreless innings in the Ballpark in Arlington, but was pulled early because of his high pitch count (118).

Matsui drove the first pitch of the sixth inning in the right field stands, and then smacked a two-run shot in the seventh.  Kevin Cash drove in two more in the sixth with his line-drive single to left, and Robinson Cano ripped his ninth homer of the season in the ninth.

Jose Veras coughed up a two-run homer to Ian Kinsler in the seventh, and Joe Girardi was forced to bring in David Robertson to finish the frame.  The Yankees went on to win their 13th out of their last 17 games.  Full box score here.

The Yanks had this game won from the start.  Besides the struggling Veras, my only concern was Burnett’s inability to retire a hitter quickly.  The Rangers were able to continually work 6-7 pitch at bats, and that led to his early hook.

Noteworthy Performances:
- Matsui was having a tough May, but hopefully this game will lead to a good June.
- Teixeira is red-hot in May.  Twelve of his 15 homers have come in the second month of the season, as well as 74 percent of his RBIs.
- Jeter reached base in five of his six plate appearances (2 singles, 1 double and 2 walks), and has nearly climbed back to the .300 plateau.
- Burnett turned in his only shutout performance of the season, and that only brought his ERA down to 4.78.  Is that worth $82.5 million?
- Chien-Ming Wang’s second appearance out of the bullpen in 2009 was perfect.  He retired the last six Rangers, and struck out two.

Up Next:
The Yanks will take a breather tomorrow after surging into first place.  They’ll start a four-game series with the Indians on Friday with two lefty hurlers on the mound.  Andy Pettitte (4-3, 3.42) will face Cliff Lee (2-5, 3.04).

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