Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Back To The Bronx We Go

So, how's the prediction looking now, Jose?

With their backs against the wall, A.J. Burnett and the Yankees came through in a huge way, beating the Tigers 10-1 on Tuesday to force a do-or-die game 5 on Thursday at The Stadium.

There was a lot that led to this huge win for the Yanks; solid pitching from AJ, clutch hitting, and good relief work. But there was nothing was more important than Curtis Granderson's spectacular play in the first inning to save A.J. Burnett and the Yankees from almost certain defeat.

Burnett was walkinng the ballpark and looked lost on the mound and the Tigers had the bases loaded with two out for Don Kelly. Kelly then hammered a 1-0 fastball deep to center. Granderson, who initially took a step in, had to back track and leap to make a lunging grab saving at least three runs.

Had the ball fallen in the Tigers would have had a commanding lead, Burnett might have been done (Wade was warming), and we'd almost certainly be talking about a disappointing end to the 2011 season for the Yanks. Instead, Burnett got out of the inning, eventually settling down and pitching 5.2 innings of one-run ball, Derek Jeter started the Yankees off with a two-run double in the 3rd propelling the Yankees offense to a 10-run 13-hit outburst, and now we're headed to a game 5.

But that season-saving play wasn't it for Granderson on the night. In the 5th, he came through with a big RBI double extending the Yanks lead to 3-1 at the time. Detroit had just cut the Yanks lead to 2-1 when Victor Martinez hit a solo shot off Burnett in the 4th--Burnett's lone blemish after his shaky first. Granderson also made another highlight reel play in the bottom of the 5th, robbing Jhonny Peralta of extra bases and probably and RBI with a diving grab in left-center.

Back to Burnett, who I'm sure shocked most of you with his performance. I know I'm shocked. He had good stuff, and most importantly, command of it. This is the guy we've been waiting for all year and to be honest, he couldn't have picked a better time to show up. If the Yanks can win game 5 and go on to the ALCS, Burnett, I assume, will have a starting spot in the rotation--one he most certainly deserves after today.

Some other notes:

- Jesus Montero went 2-for-2 with an RBI and a run scored in his first two postseason at-bats.
- Rafael Soriano had a solid 1.1 innings of work after his rough outing on Monday.
- Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez actually got hits.
- So did Nick Swisher.

Just an overall great win for the Yanks who have to be feeling good about themselves as they board that plane back to NY.

Game 5 is Thursday in the Bronx with a rematch of game 1 (part 2), Ivan Nova vs. Doug Fister.

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