Wednesday night's game was rather simple. AJ Burnett came, threw gas, spiked some curveballs and conquered the highly-praised Yankees offense. The lone blemish came in the form of a rocket launched off the bat of Alex Rodriguez. Though New York was able to put the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, the team looked flat throughout and never seemed a serious threat to recapture the lead.
Last night, Dustin McGowan mimicked Burnett and frustrated the Yankees lineup for the majority of his six inning effort. As Hughes worked quickly and economically - sideswiped by a weak David Eckstein bloop double and infield single with two outs - it appeared the Yankees bats would again go quiet into that good night. However, the offense rallied with help from McGowan's wildness and ultimately took the lead for good thanks to some poor fielding and a well-placed bloop of their own - thanks to Bobby Abreu.
In all honesty, the Yankees did not deserve to win their opening series, and, had the ball bounced differently on a few occasions, the Bombers could have begun their season like the Detroit Tigers at 0-3. However, they were able to gut out two victories from the jaws of defeat and can now feast their eyes on tomorrow's starter [Andy Sonnanstine] and his robust ERA.
Phil Hughes -
After already surrendering one run thanks to a patented Eckstein bloop double, Hughes was noticeably on the ropes in the fourth inning. When Alex Rios attempted to swipe second base only to advance to third on Robinson Cano's poor attempt to receive a perfect strike from Jose Molina, the Blue Jays were primed to notch another run. With only one out, Hughes was able to bare down and strike out both Vernon Wells and Frank Thomas to end the threat. The impressive called strike three was not taken so happily by Thomas, whose blow up at homeplate resulted in an early shower for the Big Hurt.
The Bullpen -
Billy Traber came in to face one batter: Lyle Overbay. The lefty specialist did his job by striking out the first baseman and handed the ball to Brian Bruney, who shockingly did not walk a batter or allow a baserunner before closing the seventh inning. Joba Chamberlain came in to pitch the eighth inning, needing 11 pitches [8 for strikes] to retire the side. Mariano Rivera needed 13 pitches to close up shop - but had to record the last out with the tying run standing 90 feet from home.
Honorable mention: Melky Cabrera who continues his habit of finding himself in the middle of or at the start of a crucial rally. The Melkman did it again last night, leading off the sixth inning with a key single.
Derek Jeter -
When did Jeter become such a rally-killer? It's the third game of the season and everyone with a half a brain realizes the Captain will redeem himself ten-fold for his GIDP-itis, but Yankees pitchers hope it comes sooner than later. Cano's poor fielding during the Rios stolen base and an 0-for at the plate were also none too pretty.