A.J. Burnett began the afternoon somewhat shakily but rebounded to give the Yankees seven strong innings of two-run ball -- along with the team's third straight quality start -- as the Yanks beat the Tampa Bay Rays 7-3 en route to a second straight series win against a primary AL East rival.
Tampa's James Shields held on to a 2-1 lead through the first five innings, and kept the Yankees off balance with a steady diet of off-speed pitching. However, the Yankees finally broke through in the 6th, taking the lead on a huge two-run Jorge Posada bomb to left field and never looking back. The Yanks added a third run later in the inning on heads-up baserunning by Curtis Granderson, who advanced to third on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch. The team added two more on an RBI double by A-Rod in the 7th and another run on a long solo blast from Nick Swisher in the 8th.
Joba Chamberlain came on in the eighth and gave up a run but escaped without further damage, and God came on in the ninth, having not pitched since Wednesday, and locked down the Yanks' fourth victory in their first six games.
As I mentioned on Friday, the Yankees and the team's fans would have to feel pretty good about themselves if they were able to go 4-2 in their first six games against the Red Sox and the Rays -- especially on the road -- and that they were able to do just that is obviously extremely gratifying.
The 2010 Yanks' 4-2 record actually represents the Yanks' best start to a season since 2003, when they went 5-1 in their first six games.
The team heads home for their 2009 World Series rings and the home opener on Tuesday afternoon against the Angels. I'll be at Thursday night's game for my first home game at the Stadium of the year as well as Phil Franchise's first start of the year. Is it too much to be asking Phil and the Yanks to be going for a sweep that night?
- A-Rod's bat appears to be heating up a bit, but it's pretty impressive that the team managed to go 4-2 despite getting relatively minimal production from its 2-3-4 hitters. I guess that's what happens when your 5-6-7 hitters are playing out of their minds.
- All the usual "it's early" caveats apply of course, but I think fans are really gonna love Curtis Granderson. Obviously it also doesn't hurt that he's swinging a hot bat to kick things off. Honestly, it still feels kind of surreal to me that he's on the Yankees, as I've coveted him for years.
- Excited for Nick the Walk (who, of course, picked up another walk), Tex and A-Rod to all get their first home runs of the year. Hopefully we're treated to all three getting on the board this week at the Stadium.