Derek Jeter(notes) would love to see teammate Mariano Rivera(notes) make history in front of the Yankee Stadium fans. Clinching a division title in the Bronx also seems likely with the Yankees’ next eight games at home, but the captain doesn’t want his team worrying about that quite yet.
With Rivera still needing one save to become the all-time major league leader, the AL East-leading Yankees host a Minnesota Twins club that has dropped eight straight in a Monday afternoon makeup game.
Rivera tied Trevor Hoffman(notes) with his 601st save in Saturday’s 7-6 victory over Toronto, but was denied a chance to move into sole possession of first place with Sunday’s 3-0 loss. New York (91-60) remained 4 1/2 games ahead of second-place Boston and its magic number to clinch the East shrunk to seven with 11 games to play.
“We can’t worry about clinching or anything like that, because we have to win games,” Jeter told the Yankees’ official website after the team completed a 4-6 road trip.
The Yankees are 5-2 against the Twins this season, with Mark Teixeira(notes) batting .333 with three homers, three doubles and nine RBIs. Rivera has appeared in four of the games, tossing four scoreless innings and earning three saves.
“I’m hoping that (Rivera) has an opportunity to do it at home, but we have to put him in a position to do it,” Jeter said.
Burnett was tagged for seven runs, five hits and three walks in a season-low 1 1-3 innings of a 9-4 loss at Target Field on Aug. 20. That was part of dreadful August, in which he went 1-2 with an 11.91 ERA and may have been in danger of a demotion to the bullpen.
Burnett has seemed to have saved his rotation spot in three starts this month, going 1-0 with a 4.15 ERA. He allowed two runs over six innings while striking out a season-high 11 in a 3-2 win over Seattle on Tuesday, his first victory since Aug. 15. The right-hander credits some of his recent improvement to a delivery adjustment he and pitching coach Larry Rothschild made.
“I’m going to stick to it and do the same work that we did in between starts,” Burnett said. “The main thing is making sure my hands stay in the same spot and making sure they don’t carry too far so that it allows my arm to drag.”
Burnett is winless in five starts at Yankee Stadium since defeating Milwaukee on June 29, but has fared well against the Twins there. He is 1-0 with a 2.49 ERA in four starts versus Minnesota in the Bronx, including a playoff game in 2009.
The Twins (59-92), owners of the AL’s worst record, have lost eight in a row and are 4-22 since Aug. 21.
All-Star Michael Cuddyer(notes) was hitless in five at-bats in Sunday’s 6-5 loss to Cleveland, and is batting .125 with two RBIs in his last eight games. He is batting .140 in 15 contests against the Yankees since 2009, and is 2 for 21 (.095) with seven strikeouts lifetime against Burnett.
Making his fifth career start last Sunday, Diamond gave up two runs in six innings of a 2-1 loss to Detroit. It was the second straight start the rookie left-hander limited the opposition to two runs but received no runs of support and took the loss.
The Twins are 2-11 all-time including postseason at the new Yankee Stadium.