With both Hughes and Mo pitching in the day half of yesterday’s doubleheader, the Yankees had limited options in the back end of their bullpen for the night half. The best solution was to put up a crooked number, and that’s just what the Yankees did. They put up an eight spot in the third inning, and that was more than enough for A.J. Burnett and the recently recalled members of the bullpen. They took down the Rays with relative ease.
Things didn’t start out so smoothly for Burnett, and his recent struggles amplified the effect. Two doubles, one just out of Nick Swisher’s reach, led to a run, and then Burnett infuriatingly walked the next hitter, Pat Burrell. Further frustration mounted when Burnett walked B.J. Upton, always a threat to steal a bag, to lead off the second. But from there, Burnett cruised.
Burnett had only one 1-2-3 inning, but after Longoria’s double only one Ray reached second base, and that was the result of a walk and a fielder’s choice. The Rays managed just four hits in A.J.’s six innings. They did draw three walks, but none of those runners came around to score. Most encouragingly from Burnett, he struck out eight, a sign that he had his stuff. He’ll need it as the Yankees march down the stretch into the playoffs.
In the third the Yanks would pick up all the runs they’d need for the game, and maybe tomorrow’s game, too. They plated eight runs on eight hits and two walks. Two of the hits came from Jose Molina, who had a three for three night with two walks. Mark Teixeira put the Yanks up 5-1 with a rally killing three-run shot. The Yanks were able to mount another rally, though, bringing home three more. Strangely, Derek Jeter caused two outs in the inning.
Not that it means much in the context of the game itself, but Derek Jeter failed to pick up a hit in either end of the doubleheader, and still trails Lou Gehrig by three hits. He’ll get them soon enough. It just wasn’t in the cards today — the only doubleheader in his career in which Jeter has played both ends and failed to pick up a hit in either.
Apparently Jeter lent his hitting skill to Jose Molina, who reached base five times for the first time in his career. Even stranger: Jeter was the only starter to not pickup a hit. This is even stranger still because many of the starters, Jeter included, took an early seat because of the enormous lead.
Mike Dunn combated some control issues in the ninth, issuing two walks, but he overcame it without allowing a run, closing the game and bringing the Yanks’ magic number down to a Fordian 16. The series picks up again tomorrow with Chad Gaudin taking on David Price.