The Yankees will try to get back to a .667 win percentage today in their second consecutive rubber series. The first one, on Wednesday evening against the Red Sox, was quite the contest. I wouldn’t mind seeing the two pitchers, A.J. Burnett and James Shields, exchange scoreless innings for a while.
Sheilds got his third consecutive Opening Day nod this past Monday, allowing three runs on nine hits and two walks against the Orioles. Yet the only runs came from solo home runs. The Rays came back and won the game with a bottom of the ninth rally off new Orioles closer Mike Gonzalez.
During his career Shields has gotten hit hard by the Yankees, allowing 37 runs, 36 earned, over 54 innings. A lot of that comes from 2006 adn 2007, when he allowed 27 earned runs over 28.1 innings. He recovered to pitch very well against the Yanks in 2008, though that was the year their offense kinda tanked. Shields made only one start against the Yanks last year, lasting 5.1 innings and allowing five runs on nine hits, including two home runs.
Last year A.J. Burnett made his second start of the season against the Rays, and it looked a bit like Sabathia’s start yesterday. He took a no-hitter into the seventh, but lost it immediately on a Carl Crawford leadoff single. After not managing a hit for six innings the Rays started the frame with three straight. Burnett recovered, though, getting the next two before Jose Molina picked off Carlos Pena at first. Burnett finished the gem by retiring the side in order in the eighth.
During his career Burnett has faced the Rays 21 times, posting a 2.77 ERA over 149.2 innings. The majority of those innings, of course, came when the Rays were perpetually in the AL East cellar. Last year, though, he pitched 32 innings against them, allowing nine runs, seven earned, on 22 hits and nine walks. Even better, the Rays managed just one home run in that span. It’s a Burnett rarity, but his WHIP was actually below 1.00 against them. Imagine that.
With Posada back in the lineup the Yanks are at full strength. It would be nice to pick up a rubber game W before heading back for the home opener on Tuesday.
And on the mound, number thirty-four, A.J. Burnett