For the first few innings of last night’s one-sided Yankee-Ranger game, it seemed as though a back-and-forth affair was in the works. While A.J. Burnett had his strikeout pitch working, Padilla didn’t have much, and both pitchers had allowed a few baserunners while limiting the damage.
The Yankees struck first in the bottom of the second. The Yankees put together four singles, but a baserunning blunder by Jorge Posada cost the Yankees a run. However, Vincente Padilla made up for it with a balk with a runner on third, and then he hit Mark Teixeira to load the bases. Little did anyone realize how important that HBP would be.
In the top of the third, the Rangers got those two runs back, plus one more. A walk, a double and a Nelson Cruz home run gave Texas a 3-2 lead. At that point, A.J. Burnett had given up six hits through 2.2 innings but, with the game on the precipice of disaster, he reeled it back in. He got the last out in the third and breezed through the fourth before turning things over to the offense.
Two walks and a Derek Jeter single tied the game before Mark Teixeira came to bat. For the second time, Vincente Padilla hit his former teammate with a pitch, and Teixeira was livid. On the next play, the Yanks’ first baseman busted up a potential double play with a great take-out slide. The Yanks took the lead, and Teixeira was pumped. A few batters later, Hideki Matsui blasted another home run against the Rangers, increasing the Yankees’ lead to 9-3.
They would tack on three more on an utter blast by Jorge Posada in the bottom of the sixth, but those three would just be icing on the cake. A.J. Burnett didn’t need more than those runs in the fourth, and he cruised through the final few innings en route to his first win at Yankee Stadium.
Burnett gave up eight hits in seven innings today, but he walked just one. While he didn’t have his stuff early on, he was able to limit the damage by striking out eight. Over his last two outings spanning 13 innings, he has racked up 15 and seems ready to hit his pitching stride.
For the Yankees, this game featured a few milestones — one dubious, one not. In the top of the fourth, Jorge Posada tried to nail Elvis Andrus stealing second. Instead, the ball sailed into center field for the Yanks’ first error in three weeks. The Major League record for errorless games comes to rest at 18.
More festive, though, was the run Derek Jeter scored in the bottom of the fourth — the 1,500th run of his career. Only three active players — A-Rod, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Gary Sheffield — have scored more. Just on Monday, Jeter joined Rogers Hornsby, Lou Gehrig, Stan Musial and Hank Aaron as the only players in baseball history with at least 2600 hits, 200 home runs and 1000 RBI in just 15 seasons. Rarefied air for the captain indeed.
With their win tonight, the Yanks moved ten games over .500 for the first time this year. They are clinging to a one-game lead over the Red Sox who beat Rick Porcello tonight, but the Bombers have the best record in the AL and the second best in the Majors. I like the sound of that.