In his series preview, Larry suggested that the unknown Chicago starter, Philip Humber, whom the Yankees had never faced before, would no-hit the Bombers over nine innings. Larry is prone to exaggeration. Instead, Humber limited the Yankees to one hit over seven innings. If not for a seventh inning single from Alex Rodriguez, Humber probably would have no hit the Yankees.
On the surface, Humber didn’t seem like the kind of never-before-seen pitcher who shut down the Yankees so routinely last season. For one thing, he’s right handed. For another, he can top 93mph on the radar gun. But, he pitched in the mold of Carl Pavano. None of his pitches were over powering, but, according to Al Leiter, he mixed a decent fastball with two different breaking pitches and a changeup to keep the Yankee bats off balance. He mixed in a little magic too, because at one point during the potential no-hitter Leiter confessed to Michael Kay that he couldn’t figure out why the Yankees wouldn’t have been able to hit Humber with a paddle. They just couldn’t, continuing a vanishing act against no-name pitchers who are new to them that’s been stale since August, 2010.
The tragedy to this is that the team squandered A.J. Burnett‘s best start of the season, which was probably his best start since 2009, and arguably the best start from a Yankee thus far in 2011. Burnett allowed only one run, three hits and two walks in eight innings of efficient, 108 pitch work. The only run came in the fourth inning when Adam Dunn grounded out to score Carlos Quentin, who had led the inning off with a double. Other than that Burnett was dominant, and at times brilliant. He only labored in the second, when he burned 27 pitches.
Offensively the Yankees were miserable. The team managed only six base runners on the night on three hits, two walks and one hit batsman. That, however, exaggerated the Yankee threat because Jorge Posada and Mark Teixeira each grounded into double plays, so the Yankees only left four men on base.
Rafael Soriano came on to pitch the top of the ninth, and was sharper than his line would indicate. He allowed one run on one hit and one walk, but the hit came on an infield pop-up that Derek Jeter couldn’t chase down. While it should have been an out, in all fairness to Derek, a more equitable box-score would have scored that hit, “reached on attitude” because Soriano was closest to it and made no effort to catch it. Once he walked Adam Dunn, Soriano received a well-deserved Bronx Cheer. Its all fine and good to be petulant and brooding on the mound when you’re throwing strikes and getting outs, but when you’re struggling it pays off to look less grumpy out there.
Curtis Granderson made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth. He led off with a solid single to right, making him the only Yankee to reach base twice in the game. Unfortunately Tex grounded into the double play mentioned above before A-Rod made the last out of the game. Good riddance. It was ugly offense from top to bottom.
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