Even in a meaningless Spring Training game, the greatest rivalry in the history of sports provided an exciting match-up on Tuesday night. The New York Yankees edged their arch-rivals, the Boston Red Sox, by a score of 7-1.
The biggest thrill of the night came off the bat of the young Austin Jackson, who clobbered a grand slam over the left field fence to turn a 3-1 game into a 7-1 blowout. His round-tripper was his third of the spring. His four runs in the eighth inning were part of six that propelled the Yankees past the Red Sox.
The Yankees had previously scored three runs before Jackson’s granny, getting RBI from Johnny Damon, Angel Berroa, and Hideki Matsui.
Perhaps the best sign the Yankees saw tonight is the continued brilliant pitching of A.J. Burnett. He tossed 5.2 innings tonight, giving up one earned run on only three hits. Burnett walked two and struck out four.
“He’s (A.J.) doing all the necessary things to be successful,” said Yankee skipper Joe Girardi to the YES Network. “We are really getting the chance to see his athleticism on the mound this spring.”
Burnett exceeded his 75 pitch limit tonight, throwing 81 pitches. He was left in the game to pitch to David Ortiz in the fifth, but wound up giving up a single to Ortiz, scoring Angel Chavez and giving Boston their lone run of the night.
Burnett was opposed by veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who pitched a good game himself. He tossed 5.2 innings, gave up one earned run on four hits, walked one, and struck out five.
In more good news for the Bronx Bombers, Mariano Rivera tossed a scoreless seventh inning tonight. Coming off shoulder surgery during the offseason, Rivera has thrown 34 pitches this spring in four games, coupled with six strikeouts and no walks.
Along with the great pitching on both sides, the two Yankee players battling for the center field job played tonight in hopes of bettering their chances of wining the position. Brett Gardner went 1-for-2 with a hit and a run scored. Melky Cabrera came into the game later on and went 0-for-0 with a walk and run scored.
“The center field position is going to be a debate over the next few days,” Girardi said. “I’m happy with both Gardner and Melky; they’re both performing excellently this spring.”
The Yankees now own a 15-10-1 record in the grapefruit league, while Boston is now 13-11. The Yanks also snapped the Red Sox seven-game winning streak with the victory tonight.
The Yankees have an off day tomorrow, but will pick it up Thursday against the defending World Series Champion Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, Fl.