You couldn't really ask for a better start to the year for the Yankees. Any team in baseball would love to start the year by taking four of six from their top two division rivals. New York did that by smacking around the Rays for the second consecutive game and taking the rubber match 7-3.
A.J. Burnett showed improvement over his first start of the year against the Red Sox by being very efficient with his pitches, getting nine ground ball outs and pitching seven strong innings. Burnett didn't have his best stuff considering he only managed one strike out, but it was more than enough for the bats as they forced James Shield from the game in the sixth.
Of course the biggest pitching performance came from CC Sabathia who took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before giving up a single to Kelly Shoppach. Now, my initial reaction to the hit was, "seriously Kelly Shoppach just broke this up?" My second reaction was, "thank God Kelly Shoppach just broke this up". Sabathia was dominant from the start, but the big lefty worked his pitch count up pretty high and by the time the eighth inning rolled around Sabathia was already north of 100 pitches and if he was going to finish off his gem he probably would have needed almost 130 pitches.
That is not where you want your ace to be in his second start of the year. Joe Girardi claimed that Shoppach would have been the end of the line for Sabathia no matter the outcome of that at bat. Obviously it is easy for Girardi to say that now, but in reality it would have been exactly the right move. If this was June then maybe you let Sabathia go, but not in April.
Aside from the stellar pitching the Yankees also got some big performances from the bats. The most important line from the weekend set was Mark Teixeira's 3 for 4 on Saturday. It wasn't an amazing line, but it will be a lot easier to look at Teixeira's triple slash now that the first number is no longer .000.
And while Jorge Posada had the biggest hit of Sunday's affair with his two-run jack off of Randy Choate to give the Yankees the lead in the sixth, Curtis Granderson is the one who has been the most impressive with the bat. His .348/.423/.652 line is pretty darn good and it is nice to see him get off to a hot start and avoid any tabloid headlines. Granderson has made some solid defensive plays and his three stolen bases are something that I think people might forget about. Somehow Granderson has never stolen 30 bases in a season, but it could happen this year with the way Girardi likes to run the bases. Hell 30/30 might be a reality too.
Those are just some summer dreams though. For now we are still stuck in April with another off day. Today will be even more difficult to get through knowing that those shiny rings are just aching to come out and get some sun tomorrow afternoon.