The Yanks got just what they needed last night. After a night of frustration they pulled it together and decimated the Rangers in the series finale, 9-2. The Yanks have now won 13 of their last 17 games and are now tied with the Red Sox atop the AL East. Just three weeks ago, on the heels of a sweep by the Red Sox and amid a five-game skid, few thought this possible. But the Yanks came alive after leaving the Stadium, and have been on a roll ever since.
While the Yankees offense was impressive, the story of the night is A.J. Burnett. The $82-million man hadn’t recorded the meaningless stat known as a win since April 14, and has struggled a bit recently. He stepped up last night, pitching six solid innings of no-run ball. In typical A.J. fashion he struck out seven and walked four. As we’ve seen in almost all of his starts, efficiency was a bit of a problem. He threw just 70 of his 118 pitches for strikes (59%). Still, it was the kind of showing the Yanks needed out of Burnett tonight.
The offense took advantage of rookie Derek Holland and the Rangers’ bullpen, striking early and then striking hard, scoring eight runs before Burnett’s official exit. With such a lead it seemed like a given that Chien-Ming Wang would get an opportunity to finish the game. Yet, much to my surprise, Jose Veras stood on the mound when YES came back from a commercial. Why? Who knows. He was terrible, though, and David Robertson had to come in to clean up the mess against the middle of the order. He did, which makes me happy even in a blowout.
Wang finally did make an appearance, starting the top of the eighth inning. He looked a bit shaky, but was able to overcome his deficiencies to retire the Rangers in order. Overall he did a better job of keeping the ball low. His sinker sat around 90 to 91 mph, with his 4-seamer hitting 92 on occasion. That might seem low, but check out this start from last April. Seven innings, nine strikeouts, no earned runs, and he was sitting at around the same speed. He did, however, certainly throw a bit harder in 2007.
It’s always nice to see an offensive explosion, especially when it comes from the bottom of the order. In typical RAB fashion, right when we rip on someone he starts to hit. It started with Doug Mientkiewicz in 2007, and has moved through a few players before settling on Kevin Cash, who went 2 for 4 with a run scored an a pair of RBI. Perhaps, then, it’s our long-standing criticism of Melky Cabrera which has lit a fire under him this season. Hey, anything we can do to help.
Also nice was watching Nick Swisher collect a single. WIth Melky out he’s going to continue to get playing time, so he’s going to have to find his own way out of his funk. A hit and a walk tonight help. Plus, that last called strikeout looked a little suspicious. Sure, a slumping guy doesn’t have much room to complain, but I feel for him.
Add homers for Teixeira, his 15th, Cano, his 9th, and a pair for Matsui, his 6th and 7th. Hideki has looked poor at the plate at times in the past few weeks, but just when you start to get frustrated with him he smacks an RBI double one night and socks two dingers the next. Props also go to Jeter, who had three impressive hits in his first three at bats. His average is up to .297.
Also of note: The Yanks were a respectable 3 for 9 with runners in scoring position. Apparently Ken Singleton said the Yanks had 50 hits in the series. He was a bit off. They had 47, which is still remarkable. The offense is simply rolling.
So the Yanks take a positive into the off-day as they head north to face the last-place Cleveland Indians in a four-game set starting Friday. My only question is, what the hell am I going to do tomorrow night?