A.J. Burnett had an auspicious start as he delivered strike outs to both Brian Roberts and Felix Pie during the top half of the first followed by a quick ground out against Nick Markakis. Prior to the game Michael Kay had made a point of mentioning that Burnett had an 11 - 3 record against Baltimore. Moreover, the Yankees had defeated Baltimore in 10 - 12 occasions this season.
Once Brian Matusz took the mound in the bottom of the first, Jeter promptly hit the ball to deep center which resulted in a double with no outs. Unfortunately, Nick Swisher was called out on strikes, Mark Teixeira flew out to Corey Patterson, and Alex Rodriguez flew out to Felix Pie. Matusz would go on to retire the next 10 batters in a row until Alex Rodriguez managed to tie the game at 1 in the bottom of the fourth with a home run to center field that fell just short of the bleachers.
The Orioles had scored in the top half of the third after Burnett surrendered a double to Josh Bell. Brett Gardner nearly prevented the hit with an excellent diving catch but bobbled the ball as he landed. Brian Roberts then singled on a soft fly ball to left field. Felix Pie hit a hard grounder to Mark Teixeira who chose not to hold Bell at third, but instead attempted the double play. Needless to say, the run scored and the Yankees were left with two outs and a one run deficit.
Later in the fifth inning, the Orioles recaptured the lead. With one out, Cesar Izturis then hit a double. Brian Roberts singled on a line drive to left field. Marcus Thames made a surprisingly good throw home but it was cut off by Alex Rodriguez. Rodriguez redirected the throw to second and Cano tagged out Roberts. The Yankees responded later that inning with a Thames' single and a Francisco Cervelli walk with only one out. Gardner advanced the runners with a deep fly. Jeter hit a sharp line drive to Josh Bell upon the eighth pitch of the at bat, only to be thrown out at first.
During the top half of the 6th, Felix Pie singled on a ground ball to center. Burnett walked Markakis which resulted in a Dave Eiland mound visit. With Luke Scott batting, Burnett found it an opportune time to throw a wild pitch. Scott would eventually strike out, but Pie would head to third. Pie scored on a Matt Wieters sacrifice allowing for a 3 - 1 Baltimore lead.
Once again, the Yankees responded in kind during the bottom of the sixth inning. Nick Swisher walked, followed by a Mark Teixeira line drive. This time, Matusz was the recipient of the mound visit. With A-Rod batting, Matusz took a page from the "Official Burnett Guide to Ineffective Pitching," and threw a wild pitch. A-Rod hit a sacrifice fly making the score 3 - 2. Cano continued to punish the Orioles (he's batted .479 against the O's this season prior to this game) with a bloop single. Cano's hit appeared to be a guaranteed out, but after a blundered attempt at communication between Izturis and Pie, the inning continued with only one out and a 3 - 3 tie. Cano advanced to second on a Thames ground out, but the Yankees inevitably squandered their remaining opportunities to take the lead.
In the top of the seventh, the Orioles continued to prove resilient. Burnett surrendered a lead off hit to Corey Patterson. By this point, Joe Girardi had made the decision to replace Marcus Thames with Curtis Granderson (although he'd be switched to center field with Gardner positioned at left). Izturis lied down the successful sacrifice bunt. Josh Bell then flew out for the second out. Of course, Brian Roberts would be the next batter. Of course, he would also manage a single. Granted, he would be thrown out (again) as he tried to extend his hit into a double, but he still achieved the go ahead RBI. The Yankee offense proved anemic throughout the remainder of the game.
All in all, Burnett's day wasn't terrible. He left the game after seven innings and four earned runs. However, Burnett's performance certainly wasn't an awe inducing outing, either. A string of quality starts will surely be required from Burnett if he wishes to cement any iota of confidence in the coaching staff come playoffs. Meanwhile, Buck Showalter continues to induce better execution from his young squad(20 - 13 record since taking the helm).
The Bombers look to reestablish a winning streak tomorrow night as they face the pesky Blue Jays. CC Sabathia represents the good guys while Jake Arrieta takes the mound on behalf of the Jays. The Red Sox face the Rays tonight. Given the Sox are 10 games back in the standings, this might be an appropriate time to start wishing for a Rays loss. Should the Sox lose, the Yankees will only have a 1.5 game lead over the Rays as the quest for division supremacy continues.