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Saturday, July 23, 2011
Laird gets 1st hit, will start Saturday


First big-league hit? Check. First big-league RBI? Check.

First big-league start?

That will come this afternoon for Yankees rookie Brandon Laird, who drilled an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth on Friday night for his first hit in the bigs.

Laird first appeared as a pinch-hitter in the seventh inning for Derek Jeter.

When he picked up a helmet in the Yankee dugout, Nick Swisher was confused.

"I was like, 'What do you think you're doing?" Swisher said with a laugh.

Laird, who was called up from Triple-A Scranton before Monday's win over the Rays, was tested as soon as he stepped in the box.

The first pitch from A's reliever Joey Devine buzzed behind Laird’s back. He reacted with a stunned glance back to the mound.

"I didn't really know what was going on," he said.

But Laird figured it out quickly, working a walk and later scoring the Yankees’ 15th run on Nick Swisher's single to left.

In the eighth, he singled in a run off of reliever Craig Breslow for his first big-league hit and RBI.

"I can't put it into words," Laird said. "I'm still speechless. It's just a dream come true."

The dream will continue Saturday, when Laird gets his first big league start. Joe Girardi informed the former 27th round pick that he'll be starting on Saturday against the Athletics.

"He told me to get my rest," said Laird, who is not sure what position he'll play Saturday.

The 23-year-old rookie had a crew of eighth family and friends on hand Friday night. They will be in the Bronx all weekend, just as they were in Tampa for Laird's first four games.

One family member that wasn’t there on Friday?

Brandon's brother Gerald, who is a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.

Gerald had been calling Brandon after every game in Tampa to find out if his little brother made his debut in the bigs.

"No, no, no," was Brandon’s response.

Late Friday night, he’ll have a difference answer.

"Now I finally get to call him and say I got a hit and an RBI," Laird said. He and Gerald are the sixth pair of brothers who are currently in the big leagues (active or on the DL).

HECTOR HOLDS IT DOWN: Hector Noesi cleaned up well for Phil Hughes, shutting the A’s down for 3 2/3 innings after Hughes was banged around on Friday night.

Noesi struck out three of the 16 hitters he faced, allowing four hits without walking a batter.

The righty came on in a tight spot, bases loaded and one out in the fifth. He allowed a two-run single to Jemile Weeks (the runs were charged to Hughes) but rebounded with a strikeout of Coco Crisp. He then induced a groundball from Josh Willingham to end the threat.

“Everything felt good,” said Noesi, who lowered his ERA to 2.91 in his 14th appearance for the Yankees.