With the Yankees offense scuffling, Joe Girardi finally made a meaningful tweak to his lineup yesterday, dropping struggling rookie leadoff man Brett Gardner to ninth in the order and moving everyone else up a spot. That meant Derek Jeter, who has hit a Jeter-esque .311/.385/.444 since June 1, leading off, Bobby Abreu batting second, Alex Rodriguez batting third, etcetera. His team responded by scoring nine-runs in the first four innings of the game, kick started by Jeter's leadoff home run on the second pitch of the game. Tucked away at the bottom of the order, Gardner reached base four times in four trips, with a pair of singles, a pair of walks, a pair of runs scored, and three RBIs.
It worked so well, he's doing it again today, though with Jorge Posada catching, Jason Giambi playing first base, and Wilson Betemit slipping into the eighth spot in place of yesterday's catcher, Chad Moeller.
That lineup will look to give the Yankees a series victory heading into the All-Star break with a win against A.J. Burnett in today's rubber game. Burnett is something of a Yankee killer. He beat them back on April 2, his only start against the Bombers this season, and is the only Blue Jay pitcher other than Roy Halladay to have defeated the Yankees this year. In fact, the only time the Yankees have beaten Burnett since he joined the Blue Jays came in September 2006.
The good news is that Burnett enters today's game with a 6.91 ERA in last seven starts, has allowed 15 runs (13 earned) in his last two starts, and is pitching on three-day's rest for just the third time in his career. He'll face Andy Pettitte, who has a 1.82 ERA in last six starts (5-1) and is coming off eight shutout innings against Rays in which he looked absolutely dominant, allowing just four hits, three of them singles, and walking none.