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A.J. Burnett Nearly Perfect Against Red Sox

Stephen MeyerDeputy MLB EditorMarch 24, 2009

In a game that may be forgotten before writers' heads hit their pillows tonight, A.J. Burnett showed Boston no spring training mercy.

Consistently pounding the strike zone with an eye-popping breaking ball and a 95 mile-per-hour heater, Burnett made sure that the Red Sox lineup will not sleep quite as soundly.

Boston's socks began to take on a shade of green by the end of Burnett's outing, as they became envious of the Yankees new flamethrower.

Tim Wakefield, whose knuckleball is the hardest pitch to center during the spring, was equally as impressive for the Red Sox.

This is of no concern to New York, as they have historically roughed up Wakefield over the years.

Burnett's 2008 dominance over Boston has spilled over into another masterful performance on Tuesday night.

Though I have stated countless times that spring results are as useless as the Atkins diet, Burnett has been as consistently solid as any starter in the league.

He was able to spot fastballs on either corner, bend his curve against the laws of gravity, and keep all of his pitches down in the zone.

Burnett tired as his pitch count rose up to and above the night's anticipated total of 75, but he did everything expected of him and more over the first five-plus innings.

If he was able to stay healthy for 30-plus starts in 2009, it is easy to see why the Yankees are so excited about their rotation.

A pitching staff is as strong as its weakest links, and the Yankees only potential speed bump may be ligaments and tendons as opposed to ERA and WHIP.

In case you were wondering, center field candidate Brett Gardner continued his scorching spring by collecting yet another triple.

Gardner went first to third like he was shot out of a cannon, and reminded fans yet again of what his speed brings to the Yankee lineup.

Seconds later, he read a chopper off the bat of Johnny Damon to score from third base. Virtually any other Yankee would have been gunned down by 15-20 feet.

It is truly a shame that it is only March 24. The Yankees are playing fantastic baseball, and appear ready to start the games that count.

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