Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Burnett flirts with no-no, saves bullpen (Postgame Notes, 14 April 2009)

Seven out of the eight innings he pitched, AJ Burnett simply dazzled. Every pitch he threw seemed to work and, in a refreshing change of pace from last night, Yankee pitching owned this game.

Six of those innings came consecutively, from the first to the end of the sixth.

In the seventh, however, perhaps jinxed by broadcasters who no longer respect the tradition of superstition in the game, it came undone. Three hits and a sacrifice fly, and a 2-0 lead vanished, just like that.

Burnett rebounded and pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, saving the bullpen from having to pitch anything more than the ninth, where Brian Bruney struck out the side on 10 (yes, Bruney, yes, 10) pitches.

The Yankee offense looked like it might be trouble when they loaded the bases in the first and managed only one run, but they got additional run support when they needed it, thanks especially to Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner, and they broke the game open in the ninth after Derek Jeter hit a three-run home run.

Swisher is still on fire, with a home run and a double today, and Gardner may have had two of the most important hits of his career.

Now, the bullpen is refreshed for Andy Pettitte starting tomorrow afternoon, and AJ Burnett has established himself as "Yankee stopper extrodinaire".