After an uneventful bottom of the inning, the Brewers continued to hit Burnett hard, but this time he was able to get out of it scoreless with some help from his defense. Corey Hart singled, and then Mat Gamel hit a long fly ball that Curtis Granderson was able to make an impressive catch on. Hart had been running, and the Yankees were able to catch him off first base for a double play. Casey McGehee struck out swinging and the inning was over.
The Yankees’ first hit off Shaun Marcum came with one out in the bottom of the third, with a Brett Gardner double. Granderson walked and Mark Teixeira grounded out to move the runners to second and third, but Alex Rodriguez struck out to end the Yankees’ threat. In the top of the fourth, Ryan Braun singled (and stole second) and Prince Fielder walked, but Burnett was able to get out of the inning with no runs scoring after Corey Hart hit into yet another double play.
In the bottom of the inning, the Yankees were able to get to Marcum. Robinson Cano tripled, and Nick Swisher drove him home with a base hit. Jorge Posada, who has hit Marcum pretty well in the past, followed with a long single off the wall. With runners on first and third, Russell Martin, who has struggled of late, hit his first home run since late May, and his first extra-base hit in 68 at-bats, to put the Yankees up 4-1. Burnett responded with a seven-pitch next frame, getting Gamel to ground out, McGehee to fly out, and Yuniesky Betancourt to ground out.
After a 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth, the Brewers mounted another threat in the sixth. Jonathan Lucroy singled, and Rickie Weeks hit into a fielder’s choice that was nearly a double play, but Weeks beat out the relay to first. Morgan singled, bringing up Braun and Fielder with two on and one out. Braun hit a ball that looked like it was headed down the line for extra bases, only Rodriguez was able to make a nice diving stop, though Braun beat out the throw to first. Bases loaded, out for Prince Fielder, who hit into another almost double-play. A run scored, making it 4-2 Yankees, but AJ had dealt with two of the better hitters in baseball in a critical situation with minimal harm done. A groundout by Corey Hart ended the inning.
The Yankees got that run back in the next inning on a home run by Posada off Brewers reliever Tim Dillard – though it took a while to get it called a home run. At first, the umpires thought it bounced off the wall and it would have just been a base hit – I feel like it is worth noting that he got tagged out trotting to second – but after review, they called it a home run.
The rest of the game was mostly uneventful. AJ went out for the eighth inning and would’ve gotten Weeks out to begin the inning, only shortstop Eduardo Nunez made a bad throwing error. David Robertson came in and had another extremely impressive outing, highlighted by a three-pitch strikeout of Braun where he made him look absolutely stupid. Mariano Rivera had an uneventful 1-2-3 top of the ninth with a strikeout, and the Yankees won. And yes, there is something sort of perfect about Mo retiring Yuniesky Betancourt to seal a Yankee win.
Bronx Cheers: Both Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-4 with several men left on base; Tex struck out twice and A-Rod, three times, ending an eight-game hitting streak for him, though he did have some nice defensive plays. Eduardo Nunez went 0-for-3 with a throwing error that chase AJ from the game in the eighth.
Curtain Calls: Russell Martin has struggled lately, but he had the big hit, the tiebreaking three-run homer that ended up being the game-winner. Jorge Posada, who has hit a ridiculous .391/.429/.609 in June, was 2-for-3 with a home run, his second in three days.
The pitching was obviously quite good too. AJ Burnett seemed to be in jams pretty often, but he dealt with them well, getting the Brewers to hit into many double plays. Yeah, these things are partially luck, and his propensity to allow stolen bases is pretty infuriating, but it’s safe to say that last year he would have fallen apart in innings like the sixth whereas this year he’s definitely kept the team in the game at worst. The game looked like it would be ugly early, but it definitely was not. He’s gone at least five innings for every start this year, which is a good sign. I wouldn’t have sent him out for the eighth, but he did his job there. Tonight he gave up seven hits and two walks over seven innings, striking out four.
David Robertson did his David Robertson thing, striking out two in a scoreless inning. He really has been ridiculous this year, and he’s cutting down on the walks of late too, which is nice to see. If he wasn’t on a team that would already be well-represented, he’d likely be getting All-Star consideration. Mariano Rivera was Mariano Rivera.
In the On Deck Circle: The Yankees will look to continue their success in day games when they send CC Sabathia to the mound to finish this series. Sabathia is having another excellent year, leading baseball in wins with a 3.25 ERA and 2.82 FIP. In his last start, he absolutely dominated the Rockies, throwing eight innings of one-run baseball with nine strikeouts. Of note, of course, is the fact that Sabathia was traded to the Brewers from the Indians at the trade deadline in 2008, and was a major part of their playoff appearance that year. His performance with the Brew Crew that half-year, often on short rest, was absurdly good.
Going for the Brewers will be Randy Wolf, who is quietly having a pretty nice year. He has a very nice 3.20 ERA with a somewhat higher 4.08 FIP, and a 73/30 strikeout to walk ratio. Wolf has been in baseball since 1999, though he’s spent his entire career in the National League so he has not seen the Yankees much, though he has not been successful against them. They have only faced him twice, once in 2001 (!) and the other time in 2008 when he was on the Padres and gave up seven runs, five earned, in four innings with two strikeouts and two walks. Game starts at 1:05 at Yankee Stadium.