Burnett was hardly burnt; he was very crisp. But the Yanks offense was left bruised and bloody as hell by this guy:
I replayed the game quickly after a long day in the city dodging raindrops and the early Kansas City run didn’t register as important on my radar screen. In fact, with Arod smacking what looked like his fourth straight homer to start the second, and a couple of other squared up outs from Swisher (in the first) and Berkman to end the second, I thought the game would play out much like the night before, with the Yanks piling up the homers in an easy victory.
They didn’t hit another ball really hard the entire game – maybe Swisher’s fly out in the fourth qualifies as hard-hit, but even still. A few grounders shot through the infield courtesy of Cano and Gardner, but that was it. And the first inning run stood up stiff, like a stubborn cowlick. Royals 1, Yanks 0.
Bullington had a passable fastball operating in the low 90s with just enough run on it to miss the sweet spot of the bat. He mixed in a low 80s breaking ball that was tough on lefties when ahead in the count. He saved his best fastball to strike out Arod in the eight, when Arod had a couple of good hacks to try to tie the game. It was an incredibly effective performance and a hard-earned first career victory for the former number one draft pick.
But when a guy gets brilliant results with less than impressive stuff, how much credit does he deserve? I thought the Yankees did a so-so job of getting into hitter’s counts and took some aggressive swings at hittable pitches, but always for naught. The guy just got it done. I wouldn’t bet on him getting by with the same stuff next time out, but what do I know?
When Cano singled, he was erased on a double play that featured the Yanks best contact of the day – Berkman stomping on Bullington’s ankle as he searched for the bag. Somehow, Bullington was fine and Berkman left the game hobbling. When Gardner singled, he was easily gunned down attempting to steal second. (So Gardner is an incredibly fast person who has suddenly lost the nerve/ability to steal and, if the ninth inning is any indication, the ability to drag bunt. For a nice little player who offensive game is based entirely on his ability to run around the bases and touch home plate, those would be two skills to hone right quick.)
On the other side of the ball, Burnett pitched well again, even better than last time versus Texas, so that is encouraging. He was in more jams than Bullington, but Bullington was never in a jam, so that’s not saying much. Also, Bullington didn’t have to endure Cervelli behind his plate.
What does really bad catcher defense look like? It’s important for us fans to understand this, because we’re constantly debating the merits of promoting Jesus Montero and the sticking point is almost always that his defense isn’t ready. Is really bad catcher defense the inability to throw out base stealers? The inability to catch pop-ups? To field bunts? Block pitches? Make a tag at home? On any given day the Yanks are running out a guy who can’t do a lot of those things. So I would like to know from those scouts who malign Montero regularly, what specifically can’t he do? Scranton is 20 games above .500 (71-49), and he’s catching a lot of those games. It would be hard to win that regularly if every other pitch wound up bouncing off the backstop. What would they be if Montero was a good catcher? 90-30?
So that’s a split. With the Royals. Sigh. I am a bastard of a fan, but four game splits against the dregs are just depressing as heck. I need the Yanks to win three of every four to be a happy camper, so suffice to say, I’ve never been (and never will go) camping. I need to find one of those other, lamer sports where the best teams win all their games…