PREFACE: Writing a game recap on the Sunday of the Masters Tournament is not the easiest thing to do for a golf nut like myself. I guess that’s what DVR is for. Not knowing what I should watch sandwiched between my daughter’s naps and my wife’s grading schedule, I decided to record both. I zipped through the Yankee game first and then caught up to the goings-on at Augusta National later on. Deadlines are deadlines…
The YES telecast was odd. The pregame show featured a segment with Michael Kay and Tino Martinez venturing into the stadium and dissecting key points to the game from a couple of empty seats. This being the first YES game I’ve seen this season, I don’t know if this is a one-off experiment or a regular feature to break up the previous formula of keeping the broadcasters off camera and filling that spot with video (B-roll). If you’ve read my work here for the past three seasons, you know I like to watch the games on mute — an old habit from my days working at YESNetwork.com — so this feature was even more hilarious with Tino Martinez moving his mouth and having no sound come out. Based on the reviews, that’s not too far from what happens with the sound on.
The new graphics and layout look clean and are clearly tweaked for HD. The pitch counter is a nice addition to the bug in the upper left-hand corner. That bug has also been condensed so that it doesn’t extend across the entire top border of the screen.
The question heading into Sunday, as it seems to be every time A.J. Burnett takes the mound, is “Which guy will show up?” The first inning featured the version we’ve come to sort of expect, going back to last October: 21 pitches, two runs allowed, two hits, a walk, only one first-pitch strike to the six batters he faced. His weakness in holding runners played a factor into the two runs scored, as both Jason Bartlett and Carl Crawford stole second to set the table for the Rays’ lead. Bartlett took advantage of Burnett throwing an off-speed pitch, while Crawford just beat a bang-bang play on a pitch-out, which featured a strong throw from Jorge Posada.
Rays starter James Shields, although he may not possess the explosive stuff of Burnett — or implosive, depending on the day — does have similar foibles. Mainly, Shields is prone to falling behind early in the count and opening up innings for the opposition. The Yankees adhered to that scouting report in the second inning, when A-Rod led off with a walk and three batters later, Curtis Granderson ripped a 3-1 fastball into the right-field corner to cut the deficit to 2-1.
The meat of the order — A-Rod, Robinson Canó, Jorge Posada and Granderson — forced Shields into a similar predicament the next time around in the fourth inning. But after A-Rod led off with a double and Posada walked with one out, Granderson and Swisher stranded them both to kill the rally.
Burnett, on the other hand, found his rhythm after hiccuping his way through the first inning. He retired 10 straight batters from the point when he walked Evan Longoria in the first and B.J. Upton in the fourth. He fired first-pitch strikes to nine of those 10 hitters. Pat Burrell’s leadoff single in the fifth — the first hit allowed by Burnett since the first inning — came on a 2-0 count.