"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Bombers Bunt-Bunt-Bloop-Blast beats Burnett’s blahness

A.J. Burnett toed the rubber Wednesday night looking to extend the Yankees recent string of good starting pitching.  The Yanks’ current five-game win streak had been fueled by a 5-0, 2.25 ERA run by “CC and the question marks” (Burnett was the last starting pitcher before the streak, and was coming off a horrible, winless July).  They had also jumped out to early leads in most of those games, 23-2 in the first three innings of the last four games.  In Gavin Floyd, the Bombers were facing someone who had gone 3-0 with a 0.81 ERA in his last three starts, and 2-1 with a 3.06 and 32 Ks in 35.3 innings in his last five games versus the Yanks.

Brett Gardner started the game with a perfect bunt on the grass near the third base line and then Derek Jeter followed that up with his own perfect bunt that stayed fair in the dirt portion of the third base line.  (So when is the last time a team has started a game with two bunt singles?  Anyone? Bueller?).  After 90 total feet of singles, Curtis Granderson got badly jammed on a Floyd fastball, but muscled it out into short center, dunking it just in front of Alex Rios to put ducks on the pond.

Hot-hitting Mark Teixeira lofted the first pitch he saw to deep center for a sac fly, and Rios inexplicably tried to nail Jeter going to third.  Jeter made it safely, and Granderson moved to second on the throw.  The White Sox elected to pitch to, and not pitch around Cano with first base open, and he made them pay with a three-run shot to the right-field bleachers on an 88-mph cutter.

So Burnett had a comfy 4-0 lead as he took the mound.  Juan Pierre led off with a line drive down in the right field corner that bounced into the stands for a ground rule double.  Omar Vizquel then offered up his own bunt down the third base line that was moving from foul territory back fair.  Eric Chavez tried to pick it up while it was still foul, but was too late, putting runners on first and third.  Carlos Quentin lofted a sac fly to Gardner, and Burnett escaped the inning still leading 4-1.

The Yanks extended the lead to 6-1 in the second on a Gardner hit-by-pitch, a Jeter single to right and a Granderson double, all coming with two out, as Floyd’s breaking ball was sitting up in the strike zone and being hit hard.   But Burnett was still not comfortable as he yielded consecutive one-out singles (both on 3-1 counts) to Rios and Alejandro de Aza.  But he recovered to get Brent Morel to ground into a force, and Pierre to fly to center to end the threat.

New York decided to put Floyd out of his misery in the third as four of the first five batters reached base, including Chavez’s first homer as a Yankee, a 404-foot shot to right.  Will Ohman came in and was no better, allowing a single to Gardner and a 2-run single to Jeter.  After Granderson struck out, Teixeira lined a shot towards center field.  Rios took a bad route to the ball (even though it was in front of him), and played it off to his left side.  The ball bounced just in front of Rios, and skipped past his glove, rolling all the way to the wall.  It was mysteriously scored a triple for Teixeira, and after Cano singled him in, the Yanks had a seemingly-Burnettproof 13-1 lead.

But the enigmatic and frustrating Burnett yielded five runs on five hits in the bottom of the fourth, capped by a Carlos Quentin three-run shot on a hanging curve.  So the Jets led the Bears 13-6.  Chicago drove down the field again the next inning, knocking Burnett out of the game after a single, a double and a hustling double by de Aza pared the lead down to 13-7.  Joe Girardi walked to the mound, Burnett shoved the ball in Girardi’s hand, and A.J. then tore off his uniform top as he descended the dugout steps into the tunnel.  Cory Wade put out the fire without any more runs scoring.  Burnett’s final line: 4.1 IP, 13 H, 7 R.

Wade kept things quiet in the sixth, and the Yanks pounded former teammate Brian Bruney, and then Matt Thornton, for four more runs on five hits in the 7th to take the pressure back off.  Jeter collected his fifth hit (and fourth run) of the night in the 8th as the Bombers tacked on another run, and the Yanks had an 18-7 win.

But the big question remains, “what to do with Burnett?”







1 cult of basebaal   ~  Aug 4, 2011 12:25 am

I vote for the Ol' Yeller treatment ...

2 Boatzilla   ~  Aug 4, 2011 1:24 am

[1] Hilarious. But will you cry when Old Yeller dies?

3 monkeypants   ~  Aug 4, 2011 3:05 am

[1] Yes, but remember: at the end of Ol' Yeller they end up with another Yellow Dog.

4 Boatzilla   ~  Aug 4, 2011 7:05 am

[3] Freddy Garcia?

5 Boatzilla   ~  Aug 4, 2011 7:11 am

Mr. Burnett is a tough call. He has brought a lot of camaraderie
to the team (I assume) but he has not performed to his talent. I think the Bombers are a lot more fun to watch since the last days of Torre With Cano's smiles, CC. etc., A.J.'s pies, but he needs to play...not just pie.

6 OldYanksFan   ~  Aug 4, 2011 7:40 am

AJ usually has good stuff and just chokes when there are men on base. Did you see some of those 'curveballs' he threw last night? Nothing! Fat spinners. I don't know his average FB speed, but they were all over those to. Basically, nothing was moving last night.... except my bowels.

I've never seen his stuff look that bad. Of 14 AL teams, the ChiSox are 11th in OPS and 12th in RS... and that's WITH Konerko in the lineup.

If this continues, and both Phil and Nova are better going forward, will the Yankees blow their chances of taking the AL East just because of AJ's salary?

I examined AJs 2011 splits and tried to look for patterns. His suckitude is pretty even. However, he pitches much better in innings 1-3, then in 4-9, although the first inning is the worst of the 3.

Would he have ANY value in the BP?

7 Ben   ~  Aug 4, 2011 7:51 am

Do I ice him or do I let him pitch? Which one of these?

I think AJ must be one helluva guy to keep getting chances. I like him too, not sure why though. Maybe it's the pies. He seems as much a spectator to his own greatness or suckitude as the rest of us. I can't muster any anger towards him.

But you gotta minimize the damage at some point. Maybe that point is the playoffs. Meanwhile, they'll limp along with him through the peaks and valleys.

8 RIYank   ~  Aug 4, 2011 8:00 am

I think there's a lot of overreaction here.

Someone last night pointed out that you could expect about 4 WAR from AJ -- I figure this year it's going to be less. But he's going to be well above Replacement, and I bet he's better than Nova.

The problem with AJ is that he's a so-so pitcher with a star's contract. But you don't just get rid of a guy like that, because you're stuck paying the contract no matter what.

9 RIYank   ~  Aug 4, 2011 8:01 am

Aha, the 'someone' [8] who made the comment last night about AJ's expect WAR was Raging Tartabull.

10 ms october   ~  Aug 4, 2011 9:06 am

the yankees have started emoploying the dl as a place to go when you are off but they can't really figure out why - see hughes.
the red sox haven been pulling this trick for years.
i say it is time for aj to go to the dl.

i agree with oyf - in [6] normally aj just fucks up at some point but has stretches of looking good. his stuff didn't look good last night and he hasn't gotten a game score over 70 since june.

also, i normally don't give a shit about people's "attitudes" - i believe in the heat of the competition it is understandable to be upset, not want to get taken out, etc - but it seems as if aj actually thinks girardi is in the wrong for pulling him from some of these starts - granted i don't know this but if that's so really fuck him. enough of his wack pitching.

11 RIYank   ~  Aug 4, 2011 10:08 am

Yeah, a pretend DL stint is a good idea. The Yankees could recover that roster spot and add a position player (or they could follow Mattpat's advice and bring up a lefty reliever), and Nova and Hughes could each get a couple more starts in regular rotation before any bigger decision had to be made.

12 Shaun P.   ~  Aug 4, 2011 10:17 am

[8] Agreed - you don't get rid of him. You do what you do with every knucklehead who can't get through the lineup and has only two pitches, both of which might qualify as good to great if they are working.

You put him in the bullpen. His FB will play up in shorter stints, they can't sit on it because he might loft a curve, and the Yanks' bullpen would be a truly devastating weapon.

Besides, its not like the Yanks aren't used to paying big money to relievers. Mo and Soriano both make a lot of cash and pitch in the 'pen!

13 Just Fair   ~  Aug 4, 2011 10:39 am

AJ's okay when he throws strikes, but he was behind in the count all night. If he was able to start off with a strike or Mo forbid two strikes he'd be in far better shape. If CC was standing on home plate last night AJ wouldn't have been able to hit him 50% of the time. Just a horrible outing.

14 Hank Waddles   ~  Aug 4, 2011 12:18 pm

[0] Great recap, Diane, though I admit I was hoping for more alliteration. We can all use a little more alliteration from time to time.

[8] Agreed. Even though he's getting paid like an ace, that doesn't mean he has to pitch like an ace in order to have value. He is what he is.

Oh, and I'm firmly against putting him in the bullpen, as the rest of you would be if you had thought it through. If A.J.'s in the bullpen during a walk-off, he'll have to sprint all the way across the field to get to the dugout, run back into the clubhouse, make the pie, run all the way back out onto the field, and -- if he's got any energy left -- apply the pie. That's just too much to ask.

15 Will Weiss   ~  Aug 4, 2011 1:36 pm

[14] Hank ... I have tonight's recap, so I will to my best to alliterate where applicable. ... Also, great note about the AJ Pie situation if he goes to the pen.

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