"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice
Tag: A.J. Burnett

Steel City Resurrection


Johnette Howard has a piece on A.J. Burnett over at ESPN:

When a New York Daily News reporter passed through Pittsburgh in late May and checked in with him, Burnett volunteered a telltale story. He spoke about how in the first inning of his home debut as a Pirate, he coughed up a walk, a single and another walk to the very first three batters he faced. Oh no.

“I could imagine what that place [Yankee Stadium] would sound like,” Burnett said. “But there was about two words that came out of the crowd here. So it’s just different.

“You’re a little less on edge. Some guys thrive in that.”

I’m pleased for Burnett. He seemed like a guy that wasn’t cut out for pitching in New York. If that was the case, it’s nice to see him flourish in Pittsburgh.

[Photo Credit: David Richard-US PRESSWIRE]

It’s Baseball Season?

Three weeks ago, with the Knicks floundering amid the Giants’ Super Bowl victory, the anticipation of Yankees’ arrival in Tampa for the start of Spring Training would have been met with great anticipation and fervor. Jeremy Lin changed that. The Knicks are relevant. Madison Square Garden is buzzing. Baseball is on the back burner, save for those of us who follow the sport more closely than the winter sports.

From a newsmaking perspective, it was a relatively quiet winter for the Yankees. They took care of the CC Sabathia contract early; Jorge Posada’s retirement marked the next phase of the end of the Core Four; the pursuit of CJ Wilson wasn’t as aggressive as the pursuit of Cliff Lee a year ago, so it wasn’t as much of a shock or a perceived loss when the Orange County Angels signed him. The Yankees did make the backpages — in baseball-related news, anyway — by trading Jesus Montero and Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for Michael Pineda. Shortly thereafter they signed Hiroki Kuroda. The respective deals left no doubt that Allan James Burnett’s time as a Yankee was limited.

And so it was that the Yankees ended the Burnett Era on Friday by paying the Pittsburgh Pirates $20 million to take him off their hands in exchange for two minor leaguers. Burnett can now put the “Pie” in Pirate.

The timing of the Burnett trade was similar to the one that sent Alfonso Soriano to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Alex Rodriguez eight years ago, although to be sure it is not nearly as significant a deal, and it won’t cause anywhere near the circus that A-Rod did. Jettisoning Burnett is more of a simple “addition by subtraction” move. There were many who viewed getting rid of Alfonso Soriano similarly (considering what he has become, and how that move indirectly pave the way for Robinson Cano’s emergence, maybe the folks with that view were correct).

Monday’s signing of Raul Ibanez assures they have a left-handed hitting DH who can also play a little outfield to spell either Brett Gardner or Nick Swisher. It also marks a homecoming for Ibanez, a native New Yorker. Look for many of those stories over the next six weeks, particularly as the Yankees prepare to break camp.

Other than the typical puff pieces — how does the pitching staff shape up, particularly now with three arms under the age of 30; how is the respective health of the aging left side of the infield; who is the 25th man, etc. — it figures to be a quiet Spring. That was until Mariano Rivera revealed that 2012 would be his final season.

Even with the buzz Mo’s statement caused both locally and nationally, it won’t cause nearly the level of craziness that David Wells’ book, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield’s respective roles in the BALCO scandal, a certain trip to Japan, or the afterglow of a World Series championship did. And that’s fine by the Yankees. It leaves more time and room for Jeremy Lin and the Knicks to own the spotlight.

Arms and the Man

Yesterday, the baseball analyst Dave Cameron sent out this tweet: “So, apparently, it takes as long to complete an AJ Burnett trade as it takes for AJ Burnett to get through five innings.” Burnett to the Pirates could be close but nothing is imminent. You know the drill.

Meanwhile, the big fella, Michael Pineda is in Yankee camp. Kevin Kernan has the story. Here’s another report, this one from Anthony Mccarron.

[Photo Credit: Ron Antonelli/N.Y. Daily News]

Observations From Cooperstown: Russell the Muscle and A.J. the Ex-Yankee

The Yankees might actually have a good bench in 2012, something we haven’t been able to say very often over the past decade. With returnees Andruw Jones, Chris Dickerson and Eduardo Nunez and free agent acquisitions Bill Hall and Russell “The Muscle” Branyan all in the mix (and Eric Chavez possibly on the way), the Yankees have a chance to cobble together a decent corps of backup players.

Put me down in favor of the Yankees’ signing of Branyan to a minor league contract. Although he’s 36 and coming off a bad season split between Arizona and Los Angeles (the Angels, not the Dodgers), he has enormous power, the kind of power that makes teams pull out the tape measure when he makes contact. I’ve seen Branyan hit some absolutely monstrous home runs, particularly to center and right-center field. He’s one of the strongest players I’ve ever seen, right up there with Reggie Jackson and Willie Stargell in his ability to hit for sheer length. Of course, he hasn’t hit nearly as many home runs as those two Hall of Famers, so that’s where the comparison has to stop.

Branyan also draws a decent number of walks and has a history of success at Yankee Stadium. (He’s the only player to hit a home run against the glass facing of the center field batter’s eye at the new Stadium, having accomplished that feat in 2009.) The key to Branyan’s situation with the Yankees is this: can he still play third base? If he can, then he gives the Yankees someone who can spell Alex Rodriguez against the occasional right-hander, while also providing backup at first base and at DH.

A check of Branyan’s record at Baseball Reference shows that he appeared in two games at third base for the Angels last season. Prior to that, you’d have to go back to the 2008 season for any prior experience at the hot corner; he made 35 appearances at third for the Brewers that season. So it remains somewhat questionable whether Branyan can log any serious time at third base at this late stage of his career.

If Branyan cannot play third, then his value would lie mostly in his ability to DH against right-handed pitching. As a DH, he would need to revert to his 2010 level in order to be helpful. That summer, he slugged 25 home runs and slugged .487 for the Indians and Mariners.

So there are plenty of questions regarding Branyan. But on a minor league contract, with a relatively small salary coming to him if he makes it to Opening Day, Branyan is worth a look. Besides, how can you not love a guy nicknamed Russell the Muscle?..


How do I feel about the possibility of trading A.J. Burnett? Where do I sign? Or perhaps I should say, “Great trade, who’d we get?” Even if the Yankees acquire little of value in exchange for Burnett, they figure to save $3 to $4 million in 2012 salary and can then use that money to add a left-handed DH or another piece to the growing bench. And if Brian Cashman is able to pry a meaningful player out of Pittsburgh in the deal, that’s all the better.

Media reports indicate that three or four teams are interested in Burnett, including the Pirates. The Yankees asked for Garrett Jones in a Burnett deal, but were quickly rebuffed by the Bucs. Jones is a left-handed hitting first baseman/outfielder with power, so he’d be a fit for the role as a platoon DH role and backup outfielder. On the downside, he’s already turned 30, is not a nimble defender, and has seen his OPS fall from .938 to .753 over the past three seasons. Therefore, a player like Jones should not be a dealbreaker. Perhaps the Yankees can throw in another player, or perhaps they can find another match on the Pirates’ roster. How about a left-handed reliever like Tony Watson, who could then compete with Boone Logan and Hideki Okajima for the southpaw bullpen role? Or perhaps a minor league outfielder like Gorkys Hernandez?

The fact that the Yankees are engaging teams in serious discussions for Burnett indicates that the enigmatic right-hander has little future in the Bronx. Even if he’s not traded, he has no guarantee of returning to the rotation. He’ll have to beat out both Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes for the fifth spot, which is no small task. If Burnett is not traded and has a bad spring, the Yankees still have the option to stick him in the bullpen and use him as a long man. The bottom line is this: Burnett has no birthright to the starting rotation, not after the way he’s pitched the last two seasons.

So start the clock on Burnett’s departure from New York. I’d put it better than 70/30 that he’s an ex-Yankee by the end of the month. Heck, it might happen before the Yankees open camp on Sunday. I’d imagine quite a few readers of Bronx Banter would be pleased by that possibility…


Now that Luis Ayala has signed with Baltimore, there may be an opening in the bullpen for another right-handed reliever. It could be filled by Manny Delcarmen, who is one of the more interesting names among the 27 non-roster players that the Yankees have invited to spring training. First, the bad news. Delcarmen didn’t pitch at all in the major leagues last season, and he struggled badly in Triple-A ball for two different organizations. Now the better news. He’s only 29, is durable, has had decent success against the American League East in his career, and has plenty of postseason experience.

In 2007 and 2008, Delcarmen was highly effective as a Red Sox set-up reliever, striking out nearly a batter per inning with a WHIP near 1.00. He has struggled badly since then, resulting in a demotion to the minor leagues last spring. In many ways, he reminds me of Ayala–at one time an effective reliever who has fallen on hard times. He’s just the kind of reclamation project that pitching coach Larry Rothschild specializes in, so it’s worth the relatively small gamble of a minor league contract.

When he’s right, Delcarmen throws in the mid-90s and has an excellent curve ball, which he uses as his out-pitch. Remember, Joba Chamberlain won’t be ready by Opening Day, Burnett could be traded, and Cory Wade, while effective in 2011, seems like a candidate for regression in 2012. So Delcarmen has a chance to make the team as the 12th pitcher–and that might not actually be a bad thing.

[Featured image photo credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images]

Bruce Markusen writes “Cooperstown Confidential” for The Hardball Times.

Burn Notice?

According to Joel Sherman in the New York Post, the Yanks are still interested in Eric Chavez and they are also interested in trading A.J. Burnett.

Foo is Foo!

A.J. Burnett, John Lackey. They both pitched yesterday and not very well, though their teams won anyhow.

Here’s Burnett:

“Well, I didn’t get through the fifth because I wasn’t allowed to get through the fifth. It wasn’t that I couldn’t get through the fifth,” Burnett said of Girardi lifting him with a runner on second and none out in that inning. “Whatever people want to yell or whatever people want to think, I always have confidence in myself and that’s all that matters.”
(N.Y. Daily News)

And Lackey:

“Physically, arm-strength wise, I felt about as good as I had all year,’’ said Lackey whose ERA rose to 6.49 after he allowed 11 hits and eight runs in 4 1/3 innings. It marked the 13th time in the last 19 games a Sox starter has gone five innings or fewer.

“I’m glad we won, but I’m pretty frustrated,’’ Lackey said.
(Boston Globe)

Burnett or Lackey. Pick one.

Much Ado About Nothing

Here’s the recap: The Twins beat the Yankees on Saturday night, blitzing through A.J. Burnett and cruising to a comfortable 9-4 win.

Now here’s the interesting part. Burnett was bad. Unspeakably bad. He couldn’t locate either his fastball or his curveball all night long — and by “all night long” I mean an inning and two thirds. Over the course of those five outs he gave up five hits, walked three, and was tagged for seven runs. He had his usual wild pitch to allow the game’s first run in the first, then yielded a sacrifice fly for another run before finally escaping.

He gave up a home run to Danny Valencia to open the second inning, then found more trouble when Luke Hughes doubled with one out, and Ben Revere singled him in an out later. It was 4-0, but it could’ve stopped there were it not for some bad luck. Revere took off for second and Russell Martin threw a dart across the diamond to nail him — except the umpire incorrectly called him safe. After a walk and another wild pitch, Burnett found himself at a crossroads. There were men on first and third and he had worked himself into a full count against one of the three recognizable names in the Minnestoa lineup, Joe Mauer. Burnett’s pitch came in at the knees and started off the plate before darting back towards the corner. It could’ve been called a strike, but it wasn’t. (To Burnett’s credit, he acknowledged afterwards that you shouldn’t expect to get a call on a pitch like that when you’ve had no command of the strike zone all night.)

With the bases now loaded, Joe Girardi made the decision to lift Burnett, and this is where things got interesting. The YES cameras zoomed in on Burnett as he stared hard at something. He could’ve been staring in disbelief at Girardi, or he could’ve been staring at a popcorn vendor in the stands. It was impossible to tell without a wider perspective, but Michael Kay and John Flaherty in the booth told us that he was staring down Girardi, and Kay jumped on the moment, calling all his fellow villagers to light their torches and storm the castle.

“What does Burnett want?” he asked incredulously. I’m just guessing here, but maybe he wanted to pitch better. Maybe he was upset that he had just faced a marginal AAA team and only managed to get five outs.

After he handed the ball to Girardi, Burnett walked towards the dugout but then turned back to the mound and clearly said, “That’s fuckin’ horseshit!” Flaherty then took the kerosene from Kay and said, “Looks like he had some words right there for Joe Girardi.” To which Kay responded, “I don’t know what those words could be that would be legitimate.” (As an English teacher, I cringe at the construction of that sentence, but that’s really what he said.)

Even as I watched it the first time through, I saw the whole exchange in a different light. Girardi looked like he responded to Burnett, but whatever he said was directed towards home plate and seemed to be peppered with the word “pitch,” as if we were telling home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn “That was a good pitch, that was a good pitch” in reference to the 3-2 pitch to Mauer that could’ve ended the inning. More on all this later.

So Burnett walked off the field, into the dugout — and straight into the clubhouse. The YES cameras later caught Girardi hopping off the bench, heading down the tunnel into the clubhouse before returning with Burnett, who dutifully sat on the bench and watched as Ayala allowed all three of his base runners to score.

Michael Kay, John Flaherty, Ken Singleton, and Jack Curry would all interpret these events the same way. Burnett was upset with Girardi and cursed him as he left the mound. He was so angry that he violated baseball protocol and went straight to the clubhouse, hoping never to return. Girardi would have none of this, so he chased him down, scolded him, and dragged him by his ear back into the dugout. Presumably, there would be no dessert for him either.

I don’t think any of this happened. When Jack Curry asked Girardi about what had happened between Burnett and him, Girardi looked legitimately stunned, then became as angry as I’ve seen him in his tenure as manager. “You can write what you want, and you can say what you want. He was pissed because he thought he struck out Joe Mauer.” When asked about the dugout situation, Girardi only got angrier. He explained that he had gone down into the clubhouse to look at the replay of the pitch. Curry kept pressing him, but Girardi finally shut him down.

As for Burnett, he looked just as surprised when asked about the “confrontation,” and his explanation made even more sense. He explained that Martin had said to him that 3-2 pitch had been a strike (Girardi also mentioned this), and that his horseshit statement was simply expressing his agreement with Martin’s assessment of the call. When asked about whether or not those comments might actually have been directed at his manager, “I was not talking to Joe, absolutely not. No matter how mad I get. That guy’s taken my back, every day I’ve been here. No matter how boiling I’m gonna be, I’m not gonna say that towards a manager, not him, not a chance.”

The only two voices that mattered were the only two voices that made any sense.

What doesn’t change, though, is that Burnett isn’t getting people out. There’s been a lot of talk recently about how Burnett’s contract should be separated from any discussion about his effectiveness, but the pressure will only continue to build the closer we get to October. Regardless of how large his paychecks are, can Burnett be trusted to take the ball in Game 2? Only time will tell.

[Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images]

Burnett or Fade Away?

Alex Belth’s post yesterday, which highlighted Jack Curry’s stance on A.J. Burnett, ended with the word, Amen. It was an emphatic agreement of a report detailing what many Yankees fans feel at the moment. In my own post about Jorge Posada’s demise, I wondered if Joe Girardi would have the guts to pull Burnett from the rotation and give him what we might as well start calling “The Posada Treatment.”

Girardi’s dilemma is not a matter of “will he or won’t he,” it’s more “should he or shouldn’t he.” Jon DeRosa, in his recap of Wednesday night’s loss, made an interesting and salient point:

… Nova was better tonight than Burnett was last night. Burnett ran into trouble in the sixth. Nova made it to the seventh and that’s an important distinction. But the difference was not nearly as great as will be felt tomorrow.

Ivan Nova has pitched seven innings or more and let up two or fewer runs five times this year. Same as Burnett. Nova’s been better and I’d rather see him on the hill than Burnett, but it’s not as simple as Jack Curry made out … A.J. Burnett is going to be on the team for another two years after this season. The Yankees are able to marginalize Posada because his career is over in a month and a half.

No doubt, Nova has pitched better than Burnett. He’s been more consistent, more aggressive, and gotten better results. Burnett’s outings have consistently looked like the last 99 holes of competitive golf Tiger Woods has played. Talk radio hosts and fans alike are calling for his head like he’s Piggy from “Lord of the Flies”.

My question is: Is this thought process too drastic?

Consider that in the last 10 years, the Yankees have employed luminaries like Jeff Weaver, Kevin Brown, Javier Vazquez, Esteban Loaiza, Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, and Jaret Wright. Now put Burnett in that context. When Joe Torre summoned Weaver to pitch in the extra innings of Game 4 of the 2003 World Series, did you trust him? Esteban Loaiza in the extra innings of Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS? How about Brown and the mutant glove he wore to protect the broken knuckle on his left hand in Game 7 of that series and Jay-vee Vazquez afterward? Or Wright in what would be a decisive Game 4 in Detroit in ’06, looking like a shell of the phenom who nearly delivered a championship to Cleveland in 1997? Joe Torre didn’t have many more, or better, options. But Burnett, even in his current, scrambled state, would be an upgrade from those other misfits.

Through all his struggles, and 2 1/2 winless Augusts, Burnett has not shied away from reporters. His willingness to be held accountable breeds respect. You won’t hear Burnett sell out his teammates and say, “They play behind me like they hate me,” like Weaver infamously did. He did pull a Kevin Brown last year, cutting his hand while hitting the plastic casing on the lineup card on the clubhouse door; so we know he’s capable of fits of idiocy that don’t involve him throwing a 57-foot curveball.

The thing is, we know Burnett is capable of succeeding in big spots. The Yankees don’t win in 2009 without his October contributions. His performance in Game 2 against the Phillies may have been the most important game of that entire season. Two other games he pitched that postseason, against the Twins and Angels — both of which resulted in Yankees losses — were not his fault. (Coincidentally, Phil Hughes, the other side of this rotation / bullpen coin, was the losing pitcher of record in those games.) Part of why it’s so infuriating to watch Burnett is because as a fan, you want to root for him, but you have a hankering feeling he’s going to disappoint you at any moment.

Buried at the bottom of Curry’s column is the following nugget:

If the Yankees took Posada’s job away from him, they should be able to take Burnett’s job away from him, too. Even if it’s a temporary move, the Yankees could tell Burnett that he’s being bypassed in the rotation for one turn to work with pitching coach Larry Rothschild to improve. The Yankees can tell Burnett that he’s important to their success, so they want to get him better now, not later.

… how Burnett fits in to the rotation isn’t a question for the future. It’s a question for the present.”

So what’s the answer? Should the Yankees keep Burnett in the rotation because the glass slippers may fall off of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia much like they did for Shawn Chacon and Aaron Small in 2005?

I’d like to see the Yankees take Curry’s suggestion and pull him for a few starts, see if he gets his head right, and then get him going for the stretch run and the playoffs. I say this because I’m still not sold on Hughes, either. A.J. Burnett has major league stuff, and it’s still in there somewhere. Burnett and Rothschild just need to work together to figure out where it is.

[Photo Credit: Fickle Feline]

Burn Notice

Over at the YES Network, Jack Curry thinks it’s time to kick A.J. Burnett out of the starting rotation:

When Girardi removed Jorge Posada as the regular designated hitter and turned him into a reserve on Sunday in Boston, he said he was doing what was best for the team. Posada had not hit a homer since June 29 and had driven in four runs in his last 78 at-bats. After Eric Chavez returned from the disabled list, the Yankees spoke internally about how he could eventually take Posada’s at bats at the DH slot. Now Chavez has done that. Posada is a glorified pinch-hitter, a player who seems unlikely to make the postseason roster.

So what about Burnett’s status? The Yankees recognized how Posada’s unproductive at-bats were hurting them and made a change. It was decisive. The Yankees see how Burnett’s disappointing starts are hurting them, too. They need to be just as decisive with Burnett as they were with Posada. Since Ivan Nova has pitched much better than Burnett, and since Phil Hughes looked superb in his last start, why should they lose potential starts to Burnett? The answer is simple. They shouldn’t.


[Photo Credit: N.Y. Daily News]

You’re All Wet

Before we get to the usual Yankee-Red Sox excitement, a brief word on A.J. Burnett. Here’s Steven Goldman:

His numbers aren’t that bad,” said Joe Girardi on Wednesday night. “If you look at the numbers of Hughes, I mean, Hughesy made one good start. We look at the whole year, and A.J.’s been decent for us.”

Joe: you’re measuring by the wrong yardstick, the yardstick of hyper-inflated super-offense. We aren’t there this year. The AL is scoring 4.3 runs per game. The last time you could say that was 1992. Burnett hasn’t been the outright disaster that he was last year, but “decent” might be generous. His ERA has risen every month of the season. He has a career-high home-run rate going… And he’s signed through 2013, so no one wants to admit that the higher upside is to be found elsewhere.

Mike Mussina was dropped from the rotation when he struggled in 2007. Ron Guidry was sent to the bullpen a couple of times towards the end of his career. It doesn’t have to be that Phil Hughes ends up in the bullpen, assuming he continues to pitch well (big assumption, I know) or Ivan Nova heads to Triple-A. There are other options, no matter how seemingly disruptive. The point is to win, not to spend four years avoiding the consequences of an ill-considered contract.

Loyal reader, Dina Colarossi, has a fine solution: “I think his new role should be sitting in a dunk tank outside the stadium before every game. Charge people $5 a shot, and they will recoup his contract in no time at all.”

And just think how much better we’d feel.

[Photo Credit: N.J.com]

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?”






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