Ian Kennedy Improves, Robinson Cano's Pinch-Hit Homer Wins it for Yanks

Tom McCartneyCorrespondent IApril 14, 2008

ST. PETERSBURG—Ian Kennedy showed his critics otherwise on Monday, pitching six innings and surrendering three earned runs against the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays before departing in the seventh after being hit by a Jason Bartlett line drive.

As of now, the Yankees don't think Kennedy should miss any time due to the blow.

While it wasn't the most graceful of outings, Kennedy got the job done, pitching what's defined as a quality start (six innings, three earned runs).  Kennedy surrendered eight hits and walked two in his effort against the Rays in Tampa.

Six innings is all the Yankees need out of Kennedy every five days, and if he can put them in a spot to win when he leaves the game as he did on Monday, the Chamberlain-Rivera effect should take its course.

Kennedy should have earned the win in his outing, but with the bereavement absence of Joba Chamberlain, shaky performances by Billy Traber and Brian Bruney tied the game at seven in the seventh inning.

The Yankees were then bailed out by a game-winning, pinch-hit solo home run by the slumping Robinson Cano in the eighth.  Mariano Rivera earned the save, working an inning and a third while striking out two batters.

Whether Kennedy can sustain the performance he put forth on Monday remains to be seen.  While the performance was his best of the season, it can still certainly improve.  However, with a rookie pitcher likely to take his lumps, Kennedy's stats on Monday are all the Yankees can ask for.

Will opposing hitters see the Ian Kennedy they faced in 2007 for such a brief period?  As this young star continues to mature and develop at the big league level, they will soon find out.

For one night though, Ian Kennedy put his team in a spot to win.