Saturday, April 11, 2009

Yanks Crush Orioles to Avoid Opening Series Sweep

After dropping the first two games of the season because of poor pitching performances, the Yankees got a solid outing from A.J. Burnett and a 'W' as the result.

It was the Orioles who struck first, as Brian Roberts singled in Felix Pie in the third inning. But, the Yankees responded with a three-run fourth, which featured a solo shot by Mark Teixeira and a two-run jack by Nick Swisher.

Burnett gave up another run in the bottom of the fourth, but it was all Bombers after that. The Yanks scored four in the sixth, two in the seventh, and two in the ninth, before Mariano Rivera made his first appearance of 2009 in a non-save situation. Rivera, who is coming off shoulder surgery, was spot on, retiring all three Orioles that he faced.

In the win, Burnett struggled with his control, throwing only 59 of his 98 pitches for strikes. If he was able to locate the plate more consistently, he would have lasted more than the five-and-a-third innings that he pitched. Burnett allowed seven hits and walked one batter, but he fanned six.

The bullpen pitched three-and-two-thirds perfect innings, striking out six Orioles.

In the field, the Yankees were perfect, committing zero errors. The defensive play of the game came in the bottom of the ninth when Ty Wigginton hit a frozen rope towards the hole between Teixeira and Robinson Cano. Moving to his right, Teixeira left the ground and extended his arm to make a beautiful catch, saving the bullpen's perfect performance.

The Yankees had a great day at the plate. Every starter except Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon reached base, and six-of-nine starters recorded base hits. Teixeira broke out of his early two-game slump with two hits in five at-bats, including his fourth-inning home run.

Robinson Cano had a big day and looks completely different from the Robinson Cano that we saw during the bulk of last season. He is more patient at the plate—he even drew a walk—and it is paying off. The second baseman got three hits and scored four runs.

Ramiro Pena, who is supposedly the best fielder in the Yankees' farm system, hit a hard one-hopper past the diving Caesar Izturis to record his first Major League hit.

While almost everyone contributed on the offensive end, the man of the day was Nick Swisher. After pinch-hitting in the first two games, Swisher went three-for-five at the plate and drove in five runs.

With the win, the Yankees can travel to Kansas City on a good note.

Andy Pettitte will take the mound tomorrow in the series opener.

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