Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
The Yankee offense did it’s best to keep ahead of A.J. Burnett’s advancing vortex of suck Saturday evening. Before Dodger starter Hiroki Kuroda could record an out, the Yankees were up 3-0 thanks to walks to birthday boy Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson and a home run by Mark Teixeira, who extended an eight-game hitting streak during which he has homered as many times as he’s struck out (thrice each). Burnett gave two of those runs back in the bottom of the first, the big hit being an RBI double by Manny Ramirez on a fastball up in the zone, but he worked around a walk in the second and the Yankees got a run back in the third on singles by Jeter and Granderson and a throwing non-error by Blake DeWitt on a would-be double play pivot.
That 4-2 lead lasted all of four batters. Burnett’s bottom of the third started with a five-pitch walk to Matt Kemp, an Andre Ethier single, a wild pitch that moved both runners up, a walk to Ramirez to load the bases, and a game-tying single by James Loney. After a five-pitch walk to Casey Blake to reload the bases, Burnett got Russell Martin to hit into a double play, though the go-ahead run scored in the process. Burnett then walked DeWitt and struck out the pitcher, Kuroda, to end the inning.
Amazingly. Shockingly. Stunningly, after that performance, Joe Girardi let Burnett hit with runners on the corners and one out in the top of the fourth. Burnett sacrificed, but didn’t squeeze, trading an out for putting a second runner into scoring position. Kuroda then struck out Jeter on three pitches to end the threat.
If it wasn’t already clear that Girardi was less than fully committed to trying to win the game at the expense of blowing out his bullpen, after Burnett lasted just two batters in the bottom of the fourth, he brought in Boone Logan, who suddenly seems to be some sort of long man for Girardi despite the fact that righties were hitting .289/.372/.421 against him entering yesterday’s action. Logan swelled the Dodger lead to 7-4, after which Chan Ho Park added on a couple more runs to set the final at 9-4.
Meanwhile, Kuroda quashed a two-out Yankee rally in the fifth, and fireballing lefty Hong-Chih Kuo stranded two runners for Kuroda in the sixth. The Yankees did bounce old frenemy Jeff Weaver before he could complete the eighth, but George Sherrill and Jonathon Broxton shut things down from there.
Burnett is now 0-5 with a 11.35 ERA in June. By way of comparison, Javier Vazquez had a 9.78 ERA in his first five starts of the year in which the Yankees went 1-4. That was enough for the Yankees to skip Javy’s next turn. Ivan Nova, meanwhile, has a 1.34 ERA over his last five starts for Triple-A Scranton. Nova threw three scoreless, walkless innings for the Yankees in mid May. I say it’s time to give him another look and let A.J. work things out in the bullpen for a while. Logan can be optioned to make room for Nova.