For the first time as a Yankee, AJ Burnett just didn’t have it tonight. Joe Inglett hit his first pitch of the game off the right-center field wall for a leadoff triple, the first extra base hit (and second hit period) Burnett’s allowed this spring. He worked around the trouble and escaped the first without allowing a run by getting Lyle Overbay to ground into an inning ending 4-6-3 double play with the bases juiced. There was a scary moment in the third (I think it was the third, anyway) when Burnett took a John McDonald line drive off the left tricep before catching a spike as he attempted to field the ball. Thankfully he was fine and pitched until he reached his limit, throwing just 33 of his 61 pitches for strikes as he battled his command. He walked three and only struck out one in 3.1 IP, but he did have a nice 7-2 GB/FB rate.
Brian Bruney replaced Burnett in the fourth, threw one of his warmup pitches to the backstop, then threw his first five pitches (all fastballs) out of the strike zone. Jorge Posada switched it up after that and starting calling for sliders, which Bruney was able to get over the plate, eventually inducing an inning ending 5-4-3 double play. Bruney loaded the bases in the fifth and allowed a two-run double to ex-Scranton Yank Jason Lane before giving way to Steven Jackson, who wiggled out of the inning on just one pitch.
Mariano Rivera threw the next inning, and I have to be honest, I didn’t catch him in action because I was watching The Office. Judging by his 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K line, I’d say things went pretty well. Edwar Ramirez followed him with a scoreless inning, and Danny Giese picked up the save with two innings of one run ball.
Offensively, the heavy lifting was done by Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher, and Hideki Matsui. Posada scored a pair of runs and drove in another thanks to a 1-for-3 effort, but more importantly things went just fine for him behind the plate once again. Swisher went 2-for-2, pulling a run scoring double down the left field line after fouling off at least four pitches in a 1-2 count in his second plate appearance. Matsui drove in a run with a shot into the opposite field gap, but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. He smiled as he jogged off the field, and indication that his knees are fine. Austin Jackson went 1-for-1 with a walk off the bench, and Eduardo Nunez hit a two-run homer off former Yankee draft pick David Purcey in the eighth to put the game out of reach. The Yanks won 7-4, and are riding a seven game winning streak.
Phil Hughes will take on the Twins in Fort Myers tomorrow afternoon while Andy Pettitte pitches against a squad of minor leaguers in Tampa. Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner, Robbie Cano, and Matsui will be joining Hughes on the two hour bus trip. Swisher was scheduled to join them, but he’ll be held back after fouling a ball of his left calf and suffering a bruise, which he’s not too happy about.