A.J. Burnett picked the right time to beat the Red Sox for the first time while wearing pinstripes. The much maligned pitcher threw a solid 7 2/3 innings and boosted his chances of getting No. 3 spot in the Yankees playoff rotation.
In the first game of Sunday's doubleheader, the Yankees beat the Red Sox 6-2 as Burnett (11-11) picked up his first win at Yankee Stadium since June 29.
The righthander fooled Boston's hitters with a good command of his curve ball and finally looked like the Red Sox slayer the Yankees hoped they acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays.
Meanwhile Derek Jeter gave one more reason for Boston Red Sox fans to despise the Yankees shortstop. The Yankees Captain continued to tease his division nemesis with his instinctive smart play by using his head-- or in this case-- his foot.
Jeter scored from second base on an Alex Rodriguez but, as he slid into home plate under the fumbled tag of catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, he didn't touch home plate. Salty, more intent on seeing where A-Rod was, ignored Jeter who slipped behind the catcher and sneakily tapped home plate with his toe.
Jeter then jogged to the dugout with a huge grin on his face after giving the Yankees a 5-1 lead. He went 3-for-4 and scored two runs.
The simple play epitomized the Red Sox ineptitude during their ongoing September collapse and highlighted how they are not making the little plays that add up to wins.
The fifth-inning play began with what may have been Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield's last knuckleball. The 45 year-old pitcher is in the last year of his contract and Boston is heading dangerously close to being eliminated from playoff contention. Where he'll be next year is anyone's guess.
Burnett's only mistakes were the two home runs he gave up to Jacoby Ellsbury. Other than those two dingers, Burnett was nearly flawless. He allowed only five hits and the two earned runs.
Even Burnett's 100th, and final, pitch-- before he was pulled in the eighth-- was a punch-out of Saltalamacchia. It was his sixth K of the game and the first time Burnett has seen the seventh inning since July 29.
Dave Robertson relieved A.J. and the strikeout machine mowed down three of the final four outs.
Jorge Posada increased his chances of making the playoff roster. The Yankee DH, batting cleanup, was 2-for-3 with a two-run home run and tipped his hat to the appreciative crowd.
Besides getting a long-awaited victory at home, Burnett got his own standing ovation from the fans when he exited the diamond. It's been a while since this brand of A.J. had shown up in the Bronx, and it's been an even longer time since the under-performing pitcher heard cheers like that from Yankees fans. They couldn't have come at a more opportune time.
The next sound A.J. may want to hear is manager Joe Girardi telling him that he is the No. 3 starter next Monday night.