09/10/10 11:41 PM ET
Though not aces, Burnett and Hunter key
By Tim Britton / MLB.com
Two vital pieces will take center stage on the hill on Saturday, when New York's A.J. Burnett tangles with Texas' Tommy Hunter. Both teams will need solid performances, not just for peace of mind as summer turns to autumn, but for relief on bullpens taxed by Friday's 13-inning marathon, which was won by the Rangers, 6-5.
Burnett was the Yankees' Game 2 starter throughout last postseason, alternating between brilliance and mediocrity. He's leaned more to the latter than the former in 2010, although his last two starts have been, in the words of manager Joe Girardi, steps in the proper direction.
His last time out, against the Orioles, Burnett allowed four earned runs in seven innings; he, however, focused on his inability to shut Baltimore down after each inning the Yankees scored.
"You have to be able to put up a zero when your offense scores," Burnett said. "To blow it [two] times -- that's pretty much the story of the day."
Hunter has been one of the most consistent cogs of the Rangers' rotation since joining it in June. That said, the 24-year-old is trying to rebound from one of his worst starts of the season, a seven-run pounding at the hands of the Blue Jays. Hunter allowed three home runs in that game for just the second time this season.
Asked how to improve from his last time out, Hunter didn't dance around the point.
"Not throw balls down the middle of the plate," Hunter said. "I've got to attack them. What you've got to do is throw the fastball where you want it. Throw the fastball down in the zone. Make them swing the bat, but make them swing at their pitch and not yours."
Yankees: Posada a question mark
Jorge Posada might be back behind the plate for the Yankees on Sunday after likely suffering a mild concussion on Tuesday. Posada has been cleared to play and did pinch-hit for New York on Friday, but Girardi has decided on a more cautious approach when it comes to starting the veteran.
"Our fear is if he takes another foul tip," the manager and former catcher said. "You've seen what has happened to some of these guys who have recently gotten concussions, how long it has taken to come back."
Rangers: Borbon chips in
Julio Borbon was front and center for Texas' offense on Friday night, even as he was hitting out of the ninth spot in the order. Borbon recorded a career-high four RBIs with a pair of run-scoring groundouts and a two-run double off Javier Vazquez.
Borbon now has a hit in each of his last seven starts for the Rangers.
Texas probably hopes this isn't a playoff preview. The Rangers have made the playoffs three times in their history, losing to the Yankees in the American League Division Series each time. Texas is 1-9 in those three series. ... Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte could make a second rehab start on Tuesday for the Yankees at Double-A Trenton, which swept its opening-round series from New Hampshire in the playoffs. Pettitte tossed four scoreless innings for Trenton on Thursday. ... Shortstop Elvis Andrus was back in the Rangers' lineup on Friday after missing five games with a tight right hamstring. ... The Yankees' Phil Hughes, whose turn in the rotation is being skipped, made his first relief appearance of the season with a scoreless ninth inning on Friday.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.