"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Just When I Thought I Was In, He Pushes Me Back Out

In a rare turn of events, I didn’t take a swipe at A.J. Burnett’s reliability in my preview of Sunday night’s finale at Fenway. Burnett was a key contributor to the Yankees’ 27th world championship in his first year with the team and had gotten off to a strong start in Year Two (4-0, 1.99 ERA entering last nights game). I was finally beginning to soften on the guy.

Then, with a chance to push his team into first place following a Rays loss earlier in day (to a perfect game by Dallas Braden, of all people), he shows up on the hill at Fenway without his fastball command and coughs up nine runs in 4 1/3 innings, setting the Yankees up for a 9-3 loss.

After dominating the Red Sox in his walk year with the Blue Jays, Burnett gave up 22 runs in 12 2/3 innings across three starts at Fenway Park last year, but in his first game of 2010, which also came in Boston, he pitched relatively well, allowing just four runs, three earned, in five innings as his team won 6-4. Sunday night was 2009 at Fenway all over again.

To be fair, Marcus Thames helped the Sox get on the board for the first time in the second by misplaying a catchable Jeremy Hermida fly ball that would have been the third out of the inning, taking a bad route, then having the ball glance off his glove for a two-base error that allowed J.D. Drew to score. Then again, Drew was in scoring position after singling and moving to second on a wild pitch by Burnett, and though Hermida’s drive was catchable, it was struck well and did require Thames to retreat toward the warning track in left.

Thames’s day wasn’t quite as bad as Burnett’s, but that error was ugly, he went 0-for-3 with a hit-by-pitch at the plate, and after his inning-ending strikeout in the fourth, he got his manager ejected by starting an argument with homeplate umpire Tim McClelland over the called third strike.

The Sox did the bulk of their damage in the third, loading the bases on walks to Marco Scutaro and Kevin Youkilis sandwiched around a Victor Martinez double. With one out, Drew scored Scutaro with a sac fly. David Ortiz then hit a ground-rule double to deep rightfield that plated Pedroia. Youkilis had to hold at third because the ball hopped into the stands, but he and Ortiz both came around on Adrian Beltre’s subsequent double, and Jeremy Hermida, who later drove Burnett from the game with a two-run homer over the Green Monster in the fifth, singled home Beltre to put the Sox up 6-0.

Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez got two back with solo homers over the Monster in the bottom of the third, but that was all the Yankees were able to get against Boston starter Jon Lester, who struck out seven and allowed just two other hits in his seven innings of work.

If there was a positive to this game, it was the 3 2/3 innings of one-hit relief provided by Romulo Sanchez, who not only pitched well, but finished the game for Burnett, saving the rest of the bullpen. Then again, with Sergio Mitre and Javier Vazquez starting the next two games, it would have been nice if the Yankees could have saved Sanchez for one of those two games.

Categories:  Cliff Corcoran  Game Recap

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1 rbj   ~  May 10, 2010 9:32 am

"with Sergio Mitre and Javier Vazquez starting the next two games,"

goes to check his liquor cabinet

Frustrating loss last night.

2 RIYank   ~  May 10, 2010 9:36 am

The reason the Yankees played so badly is that nobody got injured.
Or, hm, maybe it's the converse. Difficult. I'll work on it and get back to you.

3 OldYanksFan   ~  May 10, 2010 9:36 am

"Then again, with Sergio Mitre and Javier Vazquez starting the next two games...."
Eeeek.... I threw up in my mouth a little after reading that.

4 Alex Belth   ~  May 10, 2010 10:10 am

Shame on you guys. Vazquez is going to be strong.

5 RIYank   ~  May 10, 2010 10:10 am

I'm going out on a limb: this will be Javy's breakthrough start.

6 RIYank   ~  May 10, 2010 10:12 am

Oh, are you kidding?? I was just seconds behind AB.
Good thing I didn't write, "You heard it here first."
Anyway, when Alex and I both "gotta feeling", you can put it in the bank.

7 Shaun P.   ~  May 10, 2010 10:19 am

[3] Meh. Certainly there must have been at least one time in which ol' Glass Ass and Wright the Injured started back-to-back. THAT was enough to make one throw up in one's mouth. Mitre and Javy aren't those two.

I also notice they are in Detroit, and that ought to help Vazquez at the least, Comerica suppressing home runs and all . . . then I looked up Vazquez's all-time numbers in Comerica and I wish I hadn't.

In any case, we've all seen much worse, and I'm still not worried about Vazquez.

8 jjmerlock   ~  May 10, 2010 10:21 am

Want some "facts" on the Yankees season, thus far?

I don't imagine anyone recalls this, but I am adamant that people look way too much at what a team's record is, with the only second level analysis being how many games a team has played at home versus away, or which teams they've played so far in a season.

I firmly believe that every major league team is two teams - a home version and a road version.

So to me, a more intelligent analysis of a record is to see who a team has played - specifically, which home versions they have played and which road versions they have played.

I ran the numbers on the Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox seasons, so far.

It's obviously too early in the year to use this year's records, and there is the obvious point that teams either 1) can change dramatically year to year or 2) can be finding their way before breaking out, a la Teixeira, but the point is that the games you play count, and they count as home and road games against various teams coming off the schedule.

So the numbers I use to evaluate the home versions and road version I put in my calculations are actually *last year's* records, as of the end of August. Things get wonky in September for all but the top teams, and you play a wide variety of teams. So although last year's records as of August are a far from perfect reference point, they have some merit in evaluating what a team has faced on its schedule to this point.

As I suspected, it's potentially good news (although the injuries dampen the enthusiasm, a bit).

Here goes:

Yankees (12 games at home, 18 on the road)
"Real" Winning Percentage of Opponents Played: .543

Rays (15 games at home, 16 on the road)
"Real" Winning Percentage of Opponents Played: .489

Red Sox (20 games at home, 12 on the road)
"Real" Winning Percentage of Opponents Played: .500

And not that this means a dang thing, but the Yankees' number had to be rounded down, while the other two were rounded up.

The takeaway, though?

The Yankees have clearly played the toughest schedule of those three teams at this point in the season.

9 a.O   ~  May 10, 2010 10:35 am

Thames should never be allowed in the outfield again. That was pathetic.

10 RIYank   ~  May 10, 2010 10:41 am

[8] Nice work! Yeah, there's something to that "two teams" thing. And I like having a pile of home games against the Red Sox still to come this summer.

[9] I still can't figure out why they made him ride an invisible unicycle. It didn't help at all.

11 monkeypants   ~  May 10, 2010 10:51 am

Checking in from Italy. I see I've missed a mixed bag of good, bad and ugly. Yankees keep winning (usually): good. Gardner still hitting. Hughes threw another nice game. On the bad and ugly side: injuries, predictable and not. Also, what's this with Mitre and Vasquez starting? i assume that Andy is hurt?

But at least Joba is locking down the eighth inning.


12 jjmerlock   ~  May 10, 2010 11:06 am

[10] Thanks!

It's not like anything means much of anything this early in the season, and in the immortal words of that knucklehead Sterling, "why would you even try to predict baseball," but I had a feeling the Rays start, while impressive, was not getting a very close look.

When you're looking at two teams having essentially the same record, and one team has played opponents with a cumulative winning percentage that is more than 50 percentage points higher than what the other team has faced, well, Team A has actually had the better start.

13 williamnyy23   ~  May 10, 2010 11:47 am

I know the "bad AJ" turns a lot of people off, but I'd rather have a starter who is usually good, but adds an occassional stinker, versus one who is consistently mediocre. Burnett's ERAs have always been inflated because he has very bad games, but he usually contributes a good amount of quality starts. I can live with the tradeoff.

14 jjmerlock   ~  May 10, 2010 12:21 pm

[13] That was, essentially, the preference I expressed in the game thread last night.

It makes it all the more maddening when the the pitcher who with 2nd and 3rd, no outs, absolutely destroys three major league hitters in a row and looks like one of the best pitchers on earth then performs so non-competitively against your main rival, but I also think the good outnumber the bad, and make the odds more likely that in a big game he will render top opposition useless than that he will sink the team.

With his ability, though - and it's not just some silly "electric stuff" - I've seen him pitch games this season where his stuff wasn't simply electric - it was right around the plate and pretty much unhittable - you just wish he wouldn't give in on the nights where his will and interest in the game seem to completely crumble.

15 Crazy8Rick   ~  May 10, 2010 2:06 pm

For what it's worth, (my 2 cents worth anyway) AJ always gave me the jitters last year because you never knew which AJ was gonna turn up at the park.

But by the years end (YEAH BABY, WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS) I was ready to give AJ a few 'get outta jail free' cards. So this is one of them. AJ has started great for us this year so far. But as we all know, any one of us can have a bad day at the office at any time. Yesterday, was AJ's day. Let's cut the man some slack, knowing he will have a lot more good days for us than bad.

Sorry I don't have no 'get outta jail' cards for Javy!!!!
Somebody convince me!

16 weeping for brunnhilde   ~  May 10, 2010 2:26 pm

[6] ...that keeps you on your toes (oh yeah!). You've got a feeling, you think that EVERYBODY knows (oh yeah).

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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