Jon Fazio's Sports and Thoughts Blog
Today in Sports

MLB: The Yankees travelled back to the Bronx to take on the Toronto Blue Jays in the first game of a three game series at Yankee Stadium and await home run number 600 from Alex Rodriguez. A.J. Burnett got the start for the Yankees and seemed to be in control at the beginning of the game. During the first four innings, Burnett had only threw 54 pitches and made one mistake by giving up a solo home run to Vernon Wells. But in the fifth inning, things got ugly for Burnett. He gave up seven runs and six extra base hits during the inning that he couldn’t even finish, eventually handing a loss to the Yankees by a final of 8-6 and find themselves in a first place tie with the Tampa Bay Rays while Alex Rodriguez still sits on 599 career home runs after going 0-5 in the game. The Blue Jays tagged Burnett for six hits that included a second-deck two-run home run from Edwin Encarnacion and five doubles which scored five more runs. The seven runs allowed tied the most the Yankees had surrendered in a single inning this season. The Yanks did have some fight in them after that inning, posting four runs to cut the Blue Jay lead to two after Nick Swisher hit a solo shot in the ninth, his second home run of the game. But as A-Rod stepped up to the plate with two outs in the ninth hoping to extend the game and put 600 in the books, he grounded out to shortstop Yunel Escobar to end the game. The Yankees, now tied for first in the AL East, send out Dustin Moseley (1-0, 3.24 ERA) to start against Ricky Romero (8-7, 3.46 ERA) of the Blue Jays. First pitch will be thrown at 7:05 p.m. on YES.

The Mets opened up their three-game series down in Atlanta against the Braves and looked to be a pitcher’s duel on paper as Johan Santana faced Tim Hudson on Monday night. Even though Santana did strike out a season-club-high eleven strikeouts on the night, he gave up four costly runs to lose the game 4-1 and start the short road trip on the wrong foot. The Braves got to Santana early, scoring three runs off him in the first inning to give Hudson enough room to work with throughout the game. Omar Infante started off the inning with a single that led to a Jason Heyward walk. On the next play, Mets second baseman Luis Castillo dropped Chipper Jones’ potential double-play ball on his exchange from glove to hand. Although there’s no telling what might have transpired had Castillo been able to turn a clean double play, the Braves rallied for three runs on Matt Diaz’s RBI double and Rick Ankiel’s two-run single. In four starts since the All-Star Game, Santana has given up 14 hits, 10 runs, four walks and has an ERA of 22.50 in the first inning, and most of that came in the last two starts. As a comparison, in 19 first-half starts he also gave up 10 earned runs and that was still an above-average ERA of 4.74 for him. The lone run from the Mets came from Carlos Beltran, who doubled off Hudson in the fifth inning. The Mets did chase Hudson out after six innings of work, but could not get anything going against the Braves bullpen that included Billy Wagner, former closer of the Mets. The Mets now fall to a season-high seven-and-a-half games behind the Braves in the NL East race with only 56 games left to play. The Mets can’t afford to lose any more games if they still want to contend for the playoffs. They do so by sending out knuckle-baller R.A. Dickey (7-4, 2.32 ERA) out to the mound to start against Braves’ starter Derek Lowe (10-9, 4.58 ERA) on Tuesday night. First pitch is set at 7:10 p.m. on SNY.