As special and magical was the opening game of the post-All Star break series with the Rays, it's critical for the Yankees to "keep grinding" today.
You could see that the Pinstripes weren't quite there in terms of executing like they had just prior to the brief summer break. Just take a look at a battling, yet not terribly effective CC on the mound, and every other Yanee hitter except Swisher before Cano and Posada's back-to-backers in the sixth inning. Was it the eerie atmosphere surrounding the stadium for the very classy and fitting tribute to The Boss and The Voice? Was it the emotional strain added to the thick, humid, mid-summer night's air?
Regardless, the Yankees found a way to come back last night on a rather untouchable James Shields, whose change-up had Yankees off-balance all night, and then blast a homer off of Joaquin Benoit, who has been absolutely nothing short of untouchable. Finish it off with the bottom of the ninth heroics and it made for an instant "Yankees Classic".
Coming off Friday's long emotional day, today is another lengthy day at the ballpark with the special gathering of former Yankees for Old Timers Day, then a national TV audience for the FOX Game of the Week. You hate to put it on one guy, but in reality, if AJ Burnett can take the ball and start it by setting the Rays down in order--throwing strikes, no walks, no hit batsman, no wild pitches--the Yankees can pick up where they left off last night.
Baseball is not like basketball or football. You hardly ever hear the "Mo" word (momentum) used in baseball unless you are referencing the legendary Yankee closer. The old adage is momentum in baseball is only as good as your next game's starting pitcher. So, there you have it. AJ Burnett, you are taking the ball today. You have the ability to set the tone right from the first pitch. What do you say?