New York Yankees CC Sabathia had a rare loss in his old stomping ground Tuesday night, falling 4-1 to the Cleveland Indians.
The Yankees are in first place, with a margin of only two games before they get caught.
This added a lot of pressure on an already erratic AJ Burnett. It was mandatory that Burnett put the team in a winning position.
Burnett surpassed all that was required, as he dominated the Indians batters. Burnett’s teammates helped make sure he had a chance to shine again and the Yankees won 8-0.
Another factor in the Yankees success is using David Robertson in the eighth inning.
It is no secret where the Yankees biggest weakness lies—in the bullpen.
With Alfredo Aceves on the DL since May, the Yankee bullpen has become a total mess. Chan-ho Park, Joba Chamberlain, and Boone Logan are not reliable at all and it has spelled trouble whenever they were called on.
Robertson was right in the mix, with a bad beginning to 2010.
The timing could not have been more perfect for Robertson to get find his form again.
Robertson thrived as the eighth inning guy even under the lights of the 2009 World Series. Translation: The pressure does not bother Robertson.
Skipper Joe Girardi realizes that he can count on Robertson to get the outs needed with no regrets.
Robertson’s small role has made the biggest difference since the All-Star break.
Still, the bullpen is the biggest roadblock for the Yankees. Most Yankees fans take comfort in the idea that Hughes will join Robertson once Andy Pettitte gets off the DL in a few weeks.
For now, the Yankees will head to Tampa following the fourth game against the Indians. Friday night starts a three-game set at Tropicana Field against the second place Rays.
This weekend series will be a literal battle royale for first place in the AL East. Both teams have their work cut out for them, as both are on fire right now.
Whichever team wins will purely be based on who played better defense and how each starting pitcher sets the tone.
Simply because both ball-clubs have proved they can hit the heck out of the ball, but if a pitcher is throwing heaters it will be considerably harder to accomplish.
This might be the most important series of 2010 thus far, because the Rays are just two games behind the Yankees in the standings.
Please check out Lady Loves Pinstripes, as the next three posts will break down each game pitching matchups.
*First pitch is at 7:10pm this Friday night, but Yankees have to win the last game against the Indians tonight...but trust me, this weekend will be some damn good baseball.