That’s what this season has been so far.  Big wins, big losses, just-barely-wons and obnoxious losses would describe the games the 4-4 Yankees have played this season. 

AJ Burnett took the mound for the Yankees tonight and was exceptional.  Picking off where he started in his first outing last week which resulted in the Yankees first win of the season, Burnett took a no hitter with 8 strikeouts into the seventh inning before allowing a Tampa hit.

In the bottom of the seventh, Burnett allowed singles to Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria before Carlos Pena, the Yankee killer, hit another single, scoring Crawford.  Pat Burrell then hit a sacrifice fly, scoring Longoria and tying the score at 2-2. 

The Yankees did not let the score stay tied for long though, when Brett Gardner scored on a sacrifice fly by Mark Teixeira in the top of the eighth.  Burnett then came out to pitch the bottom of the 8th and successfully retired the Rays batters in order. 

The Bomber offense then woke up and padded the lead.  Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera got it started with singles, and then with two outs Gardner hit a ground rule double to deep center, scoring Cano and Jeter hit a homerun, scoring Cabrera and himself and setting the score at 7-2. 

Brian Bruney then struck out the side in the bottom of the ninth to preserve the win.

It looked like a pitching duel pretty much from the outset, as Rays starting pitcher Matt Garza struck out 9 in seven innings, holding the Yanks to 2 runs on 5 hits.  Burnett went 8 innings, allowing only three hits and 2 runs while also striking out 9.  JP Howell took the loss for the Rays (4-4) and pretty much wiped out the hard work put in by Garza to keep the Yankees offense down.  When Garza left after retiring the Yankee side in the top of the seventh, he had allowed only two runs – a score by Gardner on a Jorge Posada sac. fly and a homerun by Nick Swisher.

Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner finally broke out of their slumps.  Jeter had only 6 hits all season and 5 of them came in the opener at Baltimore.  Tonight, he went 3-5 with a HR and three RBI.  Gardner had a phenomenal spring offensively, but seemed to have trouble recreating it so far this season.  After tonight’s 3-5 performance, Gardner raised his batting average to .296.  With Johnny Damon out with the flu, Joe Girardi moved Jeter to the number 2 spot and put Gardner in the leadoff position.  It worked.  Gardner made his hits count, putting him on base at the right times, scoring 3 runs and adding an RBI in the ninth. 

The Yankees and Rays finish the series tomorrow in a 4pm start for the battle of the Andys.  Andy Pettitte will take the mound for the Yanks and Andy Sonnanstine will for the Rays.

Player of the Game: AJ Burnett (8 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 SO, 0 HR)

Honorable Mention: Derek Jeter (3-5, 1 Run, 3 RBI)

New York Yankees
B Gardner CF 5 3 3 1 0 2 0 .296
D Jeter SS 5 1 3 3 0 1 0 .265
M Teixeira 1B 3 0 0 1 1 1 0 .211
N SwisherLF 4 1 2 1 0 1 4 .458
J Posada DH 3 0 0 1 0 0 2 .304
R Cano 2B 4 1 1 0 0 1 2 .367
X Nady RF 3 0 1 0 0 1 0 .286
   M Cabrera RF 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 .333
R Pena 3B 3 0 0 0 1 1 3 .250
J Molina C 4 0 0 0 0 2 4 .273
Totals 35 7 11 7 2 10 15