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The Yankees ended their six-game road trip on a strong note against two AL East rivals Sunday afternoon. The day after CC Sabathia’s near no-hitter A.J. Burnett pitched seven strong innings and Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez drove in two runs apiece to lead the Yankees over the Tampa Bay Rays 7-3.

Burnett allowed two runs and six hits as he earned his first win of the season. Burnett gave up singles to Jason Bartlett and Carl Crawford to start the game then limited Tampa Bay to four hits over the next six innings.

Joba Chamberlain pitched the eighth, allowing a RBI triple to Crawford. Mariano Rivera worked a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation.

Posada’s two-run homer off Randy Choate gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the sixth. Rodriguez doubled off the wall in left field to drive in two to make it 6-2 in seventh, and Nick Swisher added a solo homer in the eighth off Andy Sonnanstine.

In a note that Chad Jennings wrote on LoHud, Swisher made a split-second decision to bring his warm-up bat to the plate. That 34-oz bat is three ounces heavier than his regular bat. He promptly hit a home run.

Burnett, who walked three and struck out one, worked out of a jam in the sixth after the Rays loaded the bases, helped by Evan Longoria’s infield pop single that struck one of the catwalks in the domed stadium before falling to the field. Burnett improved to 12-4 lifetime against the Rays, including 6-2 in 11 starts at Tropicana Field. He was 4-0 with a 1.97 ERA in five starts against Tampa Bay last season.

Bartlett singled leading off the first, stole second and scored on Crawford’s single. Carlos Pena later grounded into a force play to drive home Crawford.

Curtis Granderson’s RBI double began New York’s comeback against Rays starter James Shields in the second inning. Granderson got two hits today to raise his season average to .348. The day after getting three hits in his last three ABs, Mark Teixeira went 0-4 on his birthday. Although Tex is having a slow start, the Yankees are fueled by Rodriguez and their new #5 hitter, Robinson Cano, who’s leading the team with a .360 average.

The Yankees are off tomorrow (again) before starting their homestand with their own Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. They will host the Los Angeles Angels and will present their players with their World Series rings. Present will be former Yankee Hideki Matsui, who is now a member of the Angels. He’ll more likely be greeted by the Yankee faithful for his World Series game six masterpiece.

Andy Pettitte will pitch the home opener against Ervin Santana. Pregame ceremonies will start at 12:15 and the game will start at 1:05 p.m.

(Photo above from the AP)

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Curtis Granderson led off the 10th inning with a tiebreaking homer off Jonathan Papelbon and the New York Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 3-1. Granderson hit an 0-and-1 pitch into the right-field seats against Papelbon for his second homer in three games with his new team. Granderson also homered on Sunday night.

Then, after three walks issued by Papelbon, Mark Teixeira drove in the final run on a groundout as the Red Sox wasted an effective performance by John Lackey in his first appearance since signing an $82.5 million, five-year free agent contract. Lackey allowed three hits in six innings (with three strikeouts) and left with a 1-0 lead.

Chan Ho Park allowed one hit in three scoreless innings after Andy Pettitte’s start, and Mariano Rivera pitched the 10th for his second save. Pettitte was as effective as Lackey, pitching 6 innings, allowing six hits, one run, walking three, and striking out four.

After an expletive-filled tirade to the Boston media after last night’s game, David Ortiz responded, giving the Red Sox a 1-0 lead in the third with his first hit in nine at bats. Ortiz’s single scored Dustin Pedroia. That hit was Ortiz’s only offensive performance, in his other three at-bats, Ortiz ended innings with two strikeouts and a groundout.

The Yankees tied the game in the seventh after Jorge Posada doubled off Scott Schoeneweis. Daniel Bard relieved and, on an 0-and-2 count, allowed Nick Swisher’s game-tying single.

The Yankees are off Thursday before heading back to Tampa to take on the Rays in a three-game series. Javier Vazquez will have his first start of the season on Friday.

Photo above from the AP.

The Yankees opened the 2010 season on a good note, hitting back to back home runs to give them a 2-0 lead, which they squandered in the 7th inning and lost to the Boston Red Sox tonight in Fenway Park, 9-7.

CC Sabathia pitched 5.1 innings in his start and his counterpart Josh Beckett struggled, allowing five runs, eight hits, and only struck out one in 4.2 innings. Sabathia had six hits, five runs and four strikeouts.

Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson hit back to back home runs in the second inning, for the first Opening Day back-to-back jacks since 1983. Posada went 3 for 4 on the evening, with two RBIs. That home run was Granderson’s only hit. Robinson Cano came up big tonight, getting two hard-hit balls, going 2 for 5 with one RBI. Everyone in the Yankees’ lineup except Nick Johnson and Mark Teixeira had hits. Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner were the only other Yankees to get multiple hits. Jeter went 2 for 5 and Gardner hit .500 with one RBI.

There was one brilliant play in the fourth inning when a double-steal happened when Jeter dashed for second base and Gardner sped home and stole home from third base. That was a payback for Jacoby Ellsbury stealing home last year. Brilliant play by the Yankees there.

While CC Sabathia did not earn the decision tonight, he was good for the first five innings, but outfield mental errors by Brett Gardner gave the Red Sox an opportunity to tie the game. It was Gardner’s first game in left field, but he definitely acted that way, not making good jumps on the ball and at one point missing the cut off man and throwing it past Jorge Posada at catcher.

Granderson, however, made an excellent back-to-wall catch in the second inning and he may be a nice asset for the Yankees in centerfield. Only the rest of the season will tell if he’s a good fit than he was in Comerica Park.

The Yankees’ bullpen imploded after Sabathia exited. David Robertson entered the game and allowed a hit, but it was Chan Ho Park, formerly of the Phillies, that allowed three runs, giving the Red Sox the advantage. Park earned the loss for the Yankees tonight. Joba Chamberlain entered in the 8th inning and wasn’t effective allowing two hits and walking one while throwing 33 pitches for 1.1 innings.

Yes, the Yankees may have lost tonight, but keep in mind the Yankees lost eight straight to open the season against the Red Sox, but look at who won the World Series last year.

Both teams are off tomorrow, and the second game is on Tuesday and it features AJ Burnett vs. Jon Lester.

A few things to think about and read about today while the Yankees play their last spring training game. Andy Pettitte took the ball in the game this afternoon.

  • New York Yankee Manager Joe Girardi made it official Thursday — Curtis Granderson will play center field and Brett Gardner left field.
  • Something to think about: Assume 12 pitchers, and assume Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain, Damaso Marte, David Robertson, Alfredo Aceves and Chan Ho Park make the team. Who gets the last spot? Boone Logan? Sergio Mitre? Royce Rin
  • Both Jorge Posada and Francisco Cervelli are hurting as the regular season approaches. Today Mike Rivera started in the backstop, but Giardi is optimistic that both of them (and Damaso Marte, who is also experiencing tightness/soreness in his throwing arm) will be ready for the regular season.
  • A.J. Burnett was happy with his final spring start, especially the way he was able to use his new changeup.
  • This is one of those funky locker room moments between athletes. Pat Venditte autographed a ball for Curtis Granderson.
  • Murray Chass has penned his thoughts on the American League East.

It’s sunny in the northeast — enjoy your weather! Let’s hope it continues until Sunday!

Check out this article from ESPN’s Skoop Jackson.  Its a recap of an interview he had with new Yankees centerfielder Curtis Granderson. The interview is very well done.  I don’t remember seeing Jackson’s name before now, but he’s a good writer.

Jackson peppers Granderson a lot about how life will be different in New York, and I like some of Granderson’s answers…but also have concerns about a few.  I think he understands the magnitude of playing in pinstripes, but I think he underestimates the pressure of the fans, media and blogs.  I don’t think he gets the idea that he will be under a microscope.

In fact, he says at one point that he thinks his life will have to change as a result of being in New York.  ”

Now, the one thing that I am afraid of are things that I’m going to have to change in order to stay the same. Things I’m going to have to change because of the question you just asked earlier. You know, just being aware of little things that I do so that nothing can be taken the wrong way. The little things I might have to change in my daily life. Like hanging out at a coffee shop, just having some coffee with a friend versus a friend or friends coming in town and us just going to a bar just to have a cocktail — you know, basic stuff.”

I’m a little torn on how to interpret this.  Is Granderson going to enjoy this “change?”  Will it be better for him?  We have to remember that he was traded to the New York Yankees, he didn’t sign with them as a free agent.  He does not seem upset to be here, but one has to wonder a little bit how much he really is ready for this.  Life will have to change, it always seems to have to for every player who comes from a smaller market team to the Yankees or Red Sox.

I guess only time will tell, but hopefully Granderson’s “changes” are for the good and he is happy about them.  New York will be tough to play in, but it can also be very, very rewarding.

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