It’s probably a little unfair to still be as wary as I am about AJ Burnett. Like his first start of the season, he pitched well enough, but I kept thinking it wasn’t the kind of dominating performance that would ease my mind about him; it still felt like things could’ve gone either way. They didn’t, though, and Burnett held things together, mixed his pitches well and didn’t implode when things went wrong. And at least, unlike the Mets’ Mike Pelfrey last night, he’s not actually gnawing on his own jersey between innings. That is never a good sign.
Burnett came out of the game having allowed 2 runs in 6 innings, with five hits, two walks and five strikeouts. No complaining about that, and I suspect he’s looking shakier to me – because of all my memories of last season – than he actually is. I guess that makes me the headcase in this situation.
Anyway, the Yankees offense was finally cooled a bit today in the early innings – by Francisco Liriano, which is nothing to be ashamed of – and when they broke through it was more on soft hits and base-by-base advancement than the fireworks we’ve seen in the early going this season. But hey, that’ll work too. Their first run came in the third, when Brett Gardner walked, stole second, advanced to third on Jeter’s groundout, and was sacrificed home by Nick Swisher. They added to that in the fourth, just after the Twins drew their only blood of the night from Burnett. Andruw Jones – who is looking better than I expected this season although a) that is not saying much and b) it is very early – doubled in Alex Rodriguez, Cano scored on Russel Martin’s groundout, and Gardner plated Jones with a well-placed soft little dunker.
In other news, Mark Teixeira did not his a three-run home run today. What gives, Mark?!
Things got tighter still in the seventh inning, when Joba Chamberlain allowed a run to make it 4-3 New York, helped by a rough Russel Martin throwing error. (Martin is not renowned as a defensive catcher, but he has at least played all-out so far, hurling himself over the Twins’ dugout railing in unsuccessful pursuit of a foul ball earlier in the game). The Yankees tried to add insurance in the bottom half of the inning – Nick Swisher took out Twins second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka with a clean (… I think) but very hard slide trying to break up a double play, and the new Twin had to be helped off the field. The Bombers couldn’t get anyone across the plate, though, and I very much hope Nishioka’s injury isn’t serious. Swisher wasn’t really out of line, but still, that was some takeout and you hate to see someone get hurt like that, especially so early in the season.
Rafael Soriano, who you can bet your ass will be at his locker after today’s game, began the 8th walking Joe Mauer but got through the next three hitters with minimal fuss, and Mariano came in for the save with even, uh, minal-er fuss, as is his wont. 4-3 Yankees.
Also today, in the player name department: the Twins’ 6th inning was pitched by one “Jeff Manship.” He had an impressive 1-2-3 inning, but this does not change the fact that his name is Manship.
Finally: As of this writing, the Red Sox and Rays are both 0-6. That is just weird.