As good as he’s been this preseason, AJ Burnett finally gave us a look at his ugly side today. Facing what should pretty much be the Pirates’ Opening Day lineup, Burnett allowed seven runs (six earned) on ten hits and three walks in just four and a third innings. He allowed three homers (to Eric Hinske, Ryan Doumit and Adam LaRoche) and struck out just one batter. Scheduled to throw 90 pitches, Burnett left after throwing just 83, 53 for strikes. He said his mechanics were “out of whack all day,” but the good news is that his arm feels fine. Eh, it happens, no matter what time of year. Burnett’s next start will be Saturday, the second exhibition game against the Cubs in the New Stadium. Ben and I will be there.
Damaso Marte relieved Burnett, allowing two of the three baserunners he inherited to score on a pair of hits before closing out the fifth inning. Mariano Rivera actually allowed a hit in the sixth inning, only the second baserunner he’s allowed this preseason. He struck out the side and threw 10 of his 16 pitches for strikes, pushing his Spring Training pitching line to 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K. Phil Coke was dominant in two innings of work, striking out four and inducing a pair of groundball outs against just one hit. He’s a lock for the big league bullpen at this point. Jose Veras allowed two hits in a scoreless ninth.
As bad as Burnett was, Bucs’ starter Zach Duke was even worse. The Yanks hung a seven spot off Duke (3.1 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 1 K) in the fourth thanks to a pair of bunt singles by Ramiro Pena and starting centerfielder Brett Gardner. Robbie Cano sent a ball into the people as did Nick Swisher, although Swish’s hit the field of play first. Swish is now hitting .262-.463-.405 with a 7-12 K/BB ratio (54 PA) this spring while Nady’s put up .304-.323-.500 line with a 12-2 K/BB ratio (58 PA). Johnny Damon went 3-for-4 with a double, a run scored and an RBI out of the two-hole, while Cap’n Jetes went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored while leading off. Jorge Posada drew a walk and went hitless in two at-bats, also committing a throwing error. I have no idea the nature of the error, so don’t ask. Yankee baserunners reached base twenty times against Pirate pitching today, walking away with a 9-8 win thanks to a Carmen Angelini run scoring bloop single in the eighth.
The Yanks will be at Dunedin to take on the Blue Jays tomorrow afternoon, and I’m presuming Andy Pettitte will make the start (rather than throw in a minor league game) since the long reliever trio pitched yesterday. The Yankees only have three more games to play down in Florida, and will be back home for the two-game series with the Cubbies at the end of the week. They open the season in Baltimore a week from tomorrow.
Also, just following up on yesterday’s post – the Yanks officially took Rule 5 Draftee Ivan Nova back from the Padres today and assigned him to Double-A Trenton. Nove only worked one inning stints with the Pads, so he might not step directly into the Thunder rotation to start the year.