Monday, May 31, 2010

AJ, Andy restore order in Yankee land

A day after CC Sabathia struggled and the New York Yankees' relievers coughed up a huge lead, AJ Burnett gave his team what it desperately needed: eight innings of tough pitching and a day off for all hurlers not named Mariano Rivera. Today, Andy Pettitte stepped up to provide more relief to the beleaguered bullpen.

Burnett only gave up one earned run and kept his team in the game on Sunday. He was rewarded when the Yankees offense was able to mount a late comeback, which upped his record to 6-2. Burnett has become one of the Yankees most dependable pitchers, a shocking development given his previous propensity for wildness.

Pettitte, meanwhile, is off to a 7-1 start, the best of his career. It’s an amazing feat for a 37-year-old pitcher. It seems like his many years of experience are contributing to his success this season as he is using his smarts to get out of jams when his stuff isn’t there. But today’s victory was particularly special to Pettitte because it was #236, which ties him with legendary Yankee lefty Whitey Ford on the all-time wins list.

"He's a great man," Pettitte said. "I love Whitey to death. He's been a huge supporter of mine."

"Andy's in great company," manager Joe Girardi said.

Girardi knows the importance of having good starting pitching and he's determined to protect them, not letting Pettitte come out for the eighth inning despite only throwing 90 pitches because of the long bottom of the seventh by the offense. It was a wise move.

Sabathia is supposed to be the Yankees ace. But in truth, he has been outpitched this year by AJ, Andy and Phil Hughes, who have a combined 19-4 record. After a really rough week against the Tampa Bay Rays and Mets, all is right in Yankee land again.

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