Three New York Yankees reached base against Brian Burres in the first inning, another two in the second, and one each in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings. There were plenty of times last night when Burres was a pitch away from serious trouble.
But each time, the Orioles left-hander skillfully avoided it and walked off the mound with his shutout intact. Over the past two nights at Camden Yards, Orioles pitchers have completely shut down the Yankees' vaunted lineup, and their reward comes today with an opportunity to sweep a three-game series from their American League East rivals for the first time in three years.
Burres pitched 5 2/3 shutout innings and the Orioles got a solo home run from Kevin Millar and two-run doubles from Ramon Hernandez and Aubrey Huff in a thorough 6-0 victory over the Yankees in front of an announced 41,776.
"When you get a shutout, obviously the guys you should be talking to isn't the guy sitting up here," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley. "You should be impressed with what the pitching did and the guys playing behind them. You've got to appreciate that, especially after some of the situations. You've got to tip your hat to Burres - a lot."
It was the Orioles' third straight victory, improving them to 11-7 overall and 4-2 on this homestand. In the two games so far, the Orioles have outscored the Yankees 14-2 and out-hit them 21-14. Burres (2-1) followed the lead of Daniel Cabrera in the series opener by allowing five hits and walking four, but never giving in, repeatedly retiring Yankees with men on base. New York (9-10) has stranded 17 base runners in two games.
"We take the field every day and expect to win ... expect to put runs on the board and expect to give opposing pitchers fits," said the Yankees' Johnny Damon. "But they've been making it look easy."
Jim Johnson, who started the season at Triple-A Norfolk, relieved Burres and allowed just one hit over 3 1/3 scoreless innings. He now has given up just three hits in 8 2/3 scoreless innings this season.
"I'm just pitching with confidence," Johnson said. "I think it's a confidence-builder for us as a team, too. To play these guys tough early on is a good start for the rest of the season."
The Orioles knocked out control-challenged Yankees starter Ian Kennedy in the third inning on Hernandez's two-run double that gave the home team a 4-0 lead. Hernandez smoked a grooved 3-0 fastball off the wall in left-center field. Kennedy allowed four earned runs on five hits and five walks in 2 2/3 innings. The Orioles then scored two more in the seventh inning on Huff's two-run double off Billy Traber.
"I think for the most part it's been very evident our guys are getting very deep in the count and they're not afraid to hit with two strikes," Trembley said. "We try to wear down their starting pitcher so we can get in their bullpen, and the earlier you can do that, the better."
The Yankees left runners on first and third in the first inning as Jorge Posada hit into a fielder's choice. The Yankees had a walk, triple and an infield single in the inning, but didn't score after Damon was doubled off first on Melky Cabrera's line drive.
Burres then escaped trouble in the second by getting Jose Molina to hit into an inning-ending double play. That theme continued throughout the night until Trembley removed Burres with two outs in the sixth.
"I did manage to get myself in some trouble," Burres said. "I just made a pitch when I needed to at the right time. It's definitely nice when it happens."