Burnett dominates, bats slug as Yanks trounce Rays


Last time A.J. Burnett pitched at the Trop he went eight innings on 103 pitches, allowing three hits and walking one while striking out nine Rays. He wasn’t quite that good last night, but he still pitched seven strong, allowing just one unearned run on two hits and two walks. It was just the kind of opening performance the Yankees needed as they attempt to bury the Rays this week. Combined with an offensive outburst it led to an 11-4 Yankees victory.

Despite excellent results, Burnett’s pitch count rose quickly. He faced just four batters in each of the first three innings, and then he faced the minimum in the fourth and fifth before facing four again in the sixth. At that point he had thrown 105 pitches, but with a short bullpen Joe Girardi sent him out there for the seventh inning. Thankfully it was a quick inning, aided by Carlos Pena’s first-pitch groundout to short.

Was it concerning that Girardi sent out Burnett for the seventh with over 100 pitches? A bit, but considering the circumstances it wasn’t the worst move. It’s the end of July, so he’s used to the work load. He’s a vet who has racked up pitch counts before. The game was inside, so there were no concerns about the conditions. With Coke and Hughes unavailable, it’s understandable why Girardi wanted to get seven out of his starter.

On the other hand, it’s always an oddity these days to see a manager let a pitcher with over 100 pitches start a new inning. Maybe it’s just our modern bias towards the 100-pitch milestone, and it’s not really that big a deal at all. But for someone with Burnett’s injury history, it’s hard not to be concerned. It’s probably no big deal, but it’s tough to ignore, again, because of our modern biases.

High pitch count or not, Burnett was on his game last night. He allowed just five base runners through seven innings, one of whom, B.J. Upton, reached on a dropped third strike, and another of whom was erased by a double play. It’s yet another in A.J.’s recent string of excellent starts. He’s certainly among the Yankees players of the month in July. He’s got my vote, even over Hughes.

The offense wasted little time in staking Burnett to a lead. James Shields looked to be on his game in the first, but the Yanks pounced in the second. It took them two pitches to rack up two hits and a run. Hideki struck first with a single, and then scored all the way from first on a Jorge Posada gapper. As if Hideki’s 270-foot sprint wasn’t bizarre enough, Robinson Cano got ahead in the count 3-0 in the next at bat. He then whaled a 3-1 pitch all the way to the wall. It looked as if Gabe Gross would catch it at the front of the warning track, but the ball ended up sailing a bit further, bouncing off the top of the wall. Posada scored and Cano moved into third, to score on a ground out. The Yanks had an early 3-0 lead.

Subsequent innings of silence are always golden when you have a lead, and that’s what the next few were for the Yankees. Then they struck again in the sixth. Robinson Cano, who walked in the fourth, took the first pitch he saw to dead center for the Yanks’ fourth run. Nick Swisher would follow up two pitches later with a moon shot to right. It was his third homer at the Trop this season. He’d later add his fourth as an insurance run.

The Yankees offensive night speaks for itself: 11 runs, 15 hits, 3 doubles, 1 triple, 4 homers, 7 walks. A-Rod doubled in two insurance runs on his birthday, though given how Albaladejo pitched in the eighth, those runs provided some security. Also, congratulations to Johnny Damon on hitting his 200th career home run, a three-run blast in the ninth. Of those 200 career jacks, Damon has hit 70 with the Yankees in the three-plus years he’s been with the club. That’s already 14 more than he hit with Boston and five more than he hit with KC.

As mentioned, things got a bit shaky with Alabaladejo in the eighth. After opening the inning with a strikeout, he walked Jason Bartlett and then let up a double to B.J. Upton. Following a Carl Crawford sac fly, he hit Evan Longoria in the elbow, then gave up a single to Ben Zobrist. That was enough for Girardi. In came David Robertson in what was technically a save situation, with Pat Burrell standing in the on-deck circle as the tying run. Robertson got Pena swinging to end the threat. The Yanks would then add on their insurance, and Robertson finished off the Rays in the ninth after allowing a leadoff homer to Pat the Bat.

The loss puts Tampa Bay 7.5 games out of the division, with Scott Kazmir on tap to try and staunch the bleeding. The Yanks will counter with their ace, CC Sabathia. Another Yanks win could be devastating to the Rays. It would push them 8.5 games out of the division, with the possibility of a sweep looming. Even with the struggling Kazmir on the mound, do not take the Rays lightly tomorrow. They know what’s at stake.

Categories : Game Stories


  1. Little Bill says:

    I just can’t reiterate enough how important that AJ Burnett signing was. He is 6-1 with a 1.67 ERA in his last 8 starts according to Abraham’s blog. Imagine if we had Derek Lowe right now, lol. Joba would be our 2nd best starter and we’d be sending him to the pen for the stretch run. CC and AJ make the Yankees a very tough out in the short playoff series with the lineup the Yankees have. This is the best team in baseball.

    • whozat says:

      Actually, Bill, history indicates that you can reiterate it plenty.

      For the hundredth time, the story of the Burnett signing will not be told for ages yet. NO ONE THOUGHT HE WOULD BE BAD. We thought he would be inconsistent and that he would get hurt.

      His current impressive streak, four months into a five year deal, has done nothing to show us we were wrong. It’s also done nothing to show you you’re wrong. The jury is out, and will be for at least another year, year and a half.

      • Little Bill says:

        I never said anything in my post about what others thought. I think it was a great signing. You disagree and that’s fine. AJ is one hell of a pitcher and I don’t know where this team would be without him.

    • Spaceman.Spiff says:

      I’ve never seen you so complimentary of Burnett, Little Bill! What happened to change your mind?

    • suppository says:

      Yeah, Lowe sucks.

  2. Drew says:

    Burnett is a beast.. His postgame comments are always worth a listen too. It sounds like he’s happy as hell to be on this team and he knows exactly why he is here. I’m just as happy as he is that he is a Yankee.

  3. Nmb says:

    My big concern right now is CC. He’s pitching well but he’s not being the “ace” we thought he was. Any reason to be concerned or is he just not pitching like he was at Milwaukee?

  4. The one and only thing that the Yankees could not let happen was that the could not let themselves be swept by the Rays.

    By winning tonight they assured that that did not happen, and I like our chances–Sabathia’s been pretty good and Kazmir has struggled.

    I can’t say anything for certain or make any assumptions, but I can say it’s a good time to be a Yankee fan tonight.

  5. Joe B. says:

    He’s not in the NL anymore, if that explains anything.

  6. If the Yankees sweep the Rays, how much does that hurt there post-season chances?

  7. Johan Iz My Brohan says:

    For the most part, while he was in Milwaukee he was facing teams like San Diego, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Washington; most of the teams he faced had offenses that do not compare to the AL East, or the AL in general.

  8. thebusiness says:

    Anyone know who killed Melancon?

  9. Mike Pop says:

    Great job from, A.J. Awesome job from the offense, but gosh darnit. The Yankees went 3-12 with RISP. 3-12 with RISP.

    The Yankees cannot win close ball games if this continues!! ARG, 10 LOB. 10 runners LOB!!!

    This team could do better, arg!!

    Obviously just joking, and it’s probably not even a good one. Definitely not for Lanny.

    I’m glad they got to Shields though, at first I thought he was struggling this year based on what my eyes remember but the stats told me different. Thank Mo.

    I wanted to see Melancon, but i’m not complaining over it. Just think he’s due for a 1/3 of an inning or more soon.

    • Jamal G. says:

      Mark Feinsand said he was held back because Giardi wanted to keep him as the last pitcher in the bullpen because Hughes, Aceves, Coke and Bruney were given the night off.

  10. Salty Buggah says:

    I was slightly concerned about AJ’s velocity as it was 91-92-93 for the most part with a couple of 95′s in there. PeteAbe said that after he got into a high pitchcount(60 pitches after 3), he used 2-seamers to get deeper into the game. That explains that lower velocity. He got results too as he got nine of his last 12 outs on the ground.

    • whozat says:

      On gameday it was higher.

      • whozat says:

        It did trend down over the course of the game, but that’s not that surprising


      • Salty Buggah says:

        I “watched” on Gameday too

        • whozat says:

          Ok, well, I’m saying that his FB averaged near 94 MPH according to pitchfx, so there’s no reason to worry. Especially if the bit about the two-seamers is true, which would explain the lower plateau of the speed in the 4-7 innings.

          • Salty Buggah says:

            Yea, I should have made it more clear. His velocity was 93-95 in the 1st 3 innings then was mostly 92-93 with several 91′s in there and a couple of 95′s.

            • CountryClub says:

              The baseball package had the Tampa station on. His velocity was very troubling. Early in the game he was throwing 94-96. The last three innings he was 87 – 91. Very happy to see that he was throwing his 2 seamer. I was worried I’d wake up today to a story about his arm bothering him.

    • Mike HC says:

      I have a hard taking the radar guns that YES shows very seriously. He had some pitches where he blew it right by guys, yet in only registered 88. Maybe the pitch was only 88, but it seemed just as fast to me, and apparantly to the hitter as well, as the usual Burnett fastball.

  11. Drew says:

    This win puts us one behind Torre for the best record in baseball! :)

  12. BigBlueAL says:

    Im still trying to figure out the logic of not just calling up another reliever when Gardner got hurt but then using him ahead of a pitcher who has been with the Yankees and hasnt pitched in 17 days.

    If there is one thing that has been pretty horrible the entire season has been the roster management in terms of the final couple of spots on the roster, even though honestly those players/pitchers are pretty meaningless but still. Other than that this team is on one helluva role and is fun to watch and root for. Man I cant wait for the 4-game series vs Boston at home next week….

    • Drew says:

      Well, Melancon was the last option out of the pen, basically a clean up role if we got blown out. With 4 of our relievers unavailable, using a rusty reliever made little sense. We went with Albie and D-Rob and they got the job done.

      • Drew says:

        oh and calling up albie in the first place was in case Mitre shat the bed.

      • Charlie says:

        albie didn’t exactly get the job done. d-rob had to save his ass

        • Drew says:

          W = job done (for me anyway)

          • Well that’s just ridiculous. A reliever who came in and gave up 2 runs in 0.2 innings did not “get the job done” just because his team happened to win the game any more than a starter who goes 3 innings and gives up 8 runs “got the job done” just because his team happened to score 20 runs that day and win the game in spite of his performance.

            • Drew says:

              Let’s all complain about Albaladejo!! “Just because” we happened to win the game is exactly why we got the job done. We gave our pen a day off, aside from Albie and D rob and won the game. Job done broski

              • First of all, “we” didn’t get the job done, or give “our” pen a day off, or win the game. The Yankees did.

                And I never complained about Albaladejo, nor am I advocating/defending ripping him.

                And of course the TEAM got the job done tonight. Yes, when the team wins a game, that means they got the job done. Of course I agree with that. But that’s completely different than saying a pitcher got the job done just because the team happened to win the game, which is the point I took issue with. My comment was about your statement that a pitcher “got the job done” just because his team won, regardless of how he actually performed in the game. I have no idea how the team getting the job done and winning the game is relevant to this conversation.

                If a guy goes 0-5 and makes 3 errors, but his team wins, did he “get the job done” that day? Of course he didn’t. It’s the same concept.

                • Drew says:

                  First of all, “we” did get the job done. I’m aware I’m not on the Yankees payroll but I’m damn sure a Yankee.

                  My initial comment was “We went with Albie and D-Rob and they got the job done.” “They,” as in Albie and D-Rob collectively, as in, the bullpen. Most of our guys got the day off because Albie and D-Rob got the job done..
                  We won. Ask Jetes of we got the job done, he’d say “yes.”

                • Drew says:

                  Ask Jetes *if* we got the job done…

                  Bottom line is we won. I’m not saying Albie pitched well, I’m saying, mission accomplished, job done, we won.

                • Heh, I didn’t realize you’re delusional. Don’t mind me, I won’t bother you anymore.

                • Drew says:

                  Come on man. Who complains about a AAA reliever(at 1:30 AM, mind you) that comes in when your team wins 11-3? You just came here looking to argue. I didn’t say Albie pitched well, I said the pen got the job done.

                • “Come on man. Who complains about a AAA reliever(at 1:30 AM, mind you) that comes in when your team wins 11-3? You just came here looking to argue.”

                  I never complained about Albaladejo. You’re mischaracterizing what I said, again.

                • Drew says:

                  So what on earth is the problem? The job was to give our best four relievers the day off. Mission accomplished, no?

                • Drew says:

                  “My comment was about your statement that a pitcher “got the job done” just because his team won, regardless of how he actually performed in the game.”

                  And again, I never said Albaladejo got the job done, singularly. I said Albie and D-rob got the job done, collectively. Their job was to give the rest of the pen the day off.

                • Ok… Seriously, I’m out after this comment, so you can go ahead and respond and get the last word in and go crazy with it.

                  What I was responding to was this exchange:

                  Charlie says:
                  July 28th, 2009 at 1:01 am
                  albie didn’t exactly get the job done. d-rob had to save his ass

                  Drew says:
                  July 28th, 2009 at 1:04 am
                  W = job done (for me anyway)

                  I think a reasonable reading of the exchange above is that (1) you said Albaladejo and Robertson got the job done, (2) Charlie said no, Albaladejo didn’t get the job done, as Robertson had to come in and bail him out, and (3) you responded to Charlie by saying (allow me to paraphrase) “they won the game, which means, to me, that each Albaladejo and Robertson got the job done.” So, after that exchange, I responded that no, Albaladejo, in particular, didn’t get the job done, even though they won the game tonight anyway, in spite of his performance, because players who perform poorly don’t get credit just because the team happened to win in spite of their poor performance.

                  Then my position was mischaracterized, more than once, and you explained how you’re a Yankee and that you’re answering the question in the manner that you think Derek Jeter would answer the question.

                  And eventually we wound up here. Good times.

                • Drew says:

                  Good times indeed.

                  Drew says:
                  July 28th, 2009 at 12:57 am
                  [Read Comment]

                  “Well, Melancon was the last option out of the pen, basically a clean up role if we got blown out. With 4 of our relievers unavailable, using a rusty reliever made little sense. We went with Albie and D-Rob and they got the job done.”

                  Somehow the last 5 words of my post brought us here.

                • ranger11 says:

                  This was weird. An argument about a Triple A pitcher.

                • Drew says:

                  It escalated quickly.

      • thebusiness says:

        Why couldn’t he have pitched with a 6 run lead in the 8th?

        Girardi is just bad at his job. The poster above you put it perfectly. What sense does it make to get a reliever you just called up in the game over a guy who hasn’t pitched in over 2 weeks?

        • Drew says:

          Because in a game in which you have 3 available pitchers, Mel, D-Rob and Albie, putting the most likely to fail in doesn’t warrant success. Mel hasn’t pitched in 13 days and the likelihood of him not walking the house/giving up hits were very slim. On a normal day with everyone available, 7-1 is plenty. On a day with your 4 best relievers unavailable, 7-1 isn’t a lead to be playing around with a ticking time bomb in Mel (not because of his ability, because of obvious rust he would have).

          • Drew says:

            Oh, and how did I forget this, “Girardi is just bad at his job.” Wow, 23 over and we get this. You my friend, are oaktagger of the day.

          • thebusiness says:

            So the reason to not pitch him is because he’s rusty?

            An exercise in circular logic.

            Carry on.

            • Drew says:

              When your best 4 relievers are unavailable, yes. He was the last option, as I mentioned.

              • I’m going to have to disagree there.

                We have a massive lead. And as we agreed last night, you have to take advantage of these low-leverage situations to work your young pitchers. I understand Girardi wanting to hold back a reliever in the pen in case things get out of hand, but the one held back shouldn’t have been Melancon (the youngest and rustiest), it should have been D-Rob (the best and most recently used).

                Not only because Melancon needs the work way more (and D-Rob needs it way less), but also because if you put in D-Rob/Albie first and they shit the bed, now you still have to put in Melancon (who is rusty and untrustworthy) but in a HIGHER leverage situation.

                All signs point to having Melancon pitch in the blowout first, before all other options.

  13. JGS says:

    Shields is now 4-13, 5.68 (1.439 WHIP) in 20 starts against Boston and New York.

    when did he become “big game” James Shields anyway?

  14. DreDog says:

    Could it be that Kate Hudson is the anti-Jessica Simpson??????

  15. Makes you think:

    In his second year as Yankees’ manager, and only third year managing over all, Joe Girardi has his team only one game behind the Dodger for the best record in all of baseball.

    • Drew says:

      hard to imagine considering Girardi is just bad at his job.

      • thebusiness says:

        A stack of bricks could manage this roster to 60 wins. Manager’s rarely effect W/L too much either way. Winning doesn’t mean you made the right decision, just like losing doesn’t mean you made the wrong decision. Putting your top relief prospect on ice for 3 weeks is bad whether you win 20 straight or lose 20 straight.

      • Klemy says:

        Imagine where this team would be if Francona were calling the shots.


    • DreDog says:

      I like it. Now if he can not get into a fight with the owners. I admit, I was a Mattingly guy, but Girardi has been growing on me.

    • K.B.D. says:

      And he did it without Paul Quantrill, Steve Karsay or Scott Proctor. Unfathomable.

    • whozat says:

      It’s actually pretty irrelevant. The Dodgers are in the weakest division in the weaker league.

      I’m much more impressed by Girardi’s ability to learn from at least some of his mistakes. The ARod situation back in Miami, the media issues from last season, and — Melancon notwithstanding — he’s done a decent job of evaluating new players (and veteran players) dispassionately. Bruney was sucking, so he stopped getting given big outs for a while. Robertson was doing well for a while, so he got more opportunities. Aceves was rewarded for his early dominance in the pen, and Hughes was not consigned to mopup duty because of his struggles as a starer. Johnny has been removed for defensive purposes instead of continuing to be treated as though he was still an elite CFer being kind enough to cover LF for us.

      JoeT decided his opinion of you fast, and there was nothing you could do to change it. JoeG is a lot better about that.

  16. Salty Buggah says:

    AJ: “I didn’t really feel overpowering,” Burnett said. “I had a lot more movement tonight than velocity. We mixed in everything and confidence is huge.” (Makes sense as his velocity was a bit lower and he said he did not have command of his curveball.)

    From ESPN:

    • Yankees starter got nine swing-and-miss strikes via fastball (most with fastball this season).

    • Retired leadoff batter in every inning pitched.

    • Retired 81 percent of hitters when the batter went to two strikes.

    Not having all of his stuff but still is dominant. I like it.

    • Drew says:

      I believe most of those swings and misses on FB’s were early in the game, the first few innings.
      My favorite quote form AJ tonight: it was a question that was something like, “Is this what you envisioned when you came to the Yankees?” He said something along the lines of, “No, not yet, we’ll find out in October.”
      Love it

  17. Drew says:

    Well, what I’ve gleaned from this thread:
    -AJ is the man.
    -Many Yankee fans are not happy with having the best record in our respective league.
    -If there is something to complain about, many will complain about it.
    -Winning while giving four men in the pen a day off with an 8 run lead is not necessarily getting the job done.
    -Girardi has no idea what he’s doing while leading his team to dominance.

    • ranger11 says:

      It is very strange. I thought there would be a lot of happy, positive comments. They have to send Melancon back down. He’s causing too much tension amongst Yankee fans at 2 in the morning.

    • Nady Nation says:

      “Winning while giving four men in the pen a day off with an 8 run lead is not necessarily getting the job done.”

      Totally not the argument you were making. You said earlier in the thread “D-Rob and Albaladejo got the job done,” and then went on to claim that Albaladejo did his job, in essence, b/c the team won the game. He was handed a 7 run lead in the 8th inning, the equivalent of utter mop up work, and he couldn’t even get through a full inning. The team needed to waste another reliever b/c of his total suckitude. So really, FIVE bullpen arms could’ve gotten the day off, but Albaladejo could only muster 2/3 IP. If you consider that “getting the job done,” you have insanely low standards for the Yankee bullpen.

      • V says:

        Uh oh, now you done it. Drew’s gonna come back and ARGUE WITH YOU and your head is going to explode from the insanity he’ll spew.

        • Nady Nation says:

          After reading Drew’s comments again, it seems his defense for his initial comments was that Robertson and Albie “collectively got the job done.” So, let’s take a look at their collective numbers:

          2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR

          While Albaladejo’s line was far worse, D-Rob still gave up a couple of hits, one of which was a long-ball. So basically, they’re extremely lucky the Yanks had such a large lead. Production like that from your bullpen is nothing short of awful. By no means did they get any job done, other than doing a poor job.

      • But the team won. Do you think Derek Jeter would say anyone didn’t get the job done last night? A win is a win is a win. I can’t believe you hate the Yankees and aren’t happy when they win. I’m a Yankee.


  18. nmc says:

    I think Girardi is doing a good job using the pen to win games, but I don’t want guys to be overused. I think that in some situations, you have to trust a 6 run lead. If a guy can’t protect that, he shouldn’t be on the roster – (also, aren’t these guys throwing side sessions? so they shouldn’t be THAT rusty).

    • Drew says:

      Guys like Leiter say the side sessions are nothing like game action and you can’t really rely on them to keep you sharp. I don’t know how true it is but I’m sure Mel has thrown plenty of side sessions and shouldn’t be too bad.
      I agree 100% with your sentiment though.

      • ShuutoHeat says:

        No doubt, side sessions are different from the game.
        You can feel good about the way you throw your stuff and how it moves in a BP session.

        But when you’re playing and you’re not “in the zone” it’s easy to get rocked and then have your hands shaking from the lack of confidence on whether the next guy will destroy your next pitch.

        I’ve watched some recreational league pitchers who looked really good in practice, throwing some good stuff. But they were totally different in the game. the opposite can happen as well.

  19. Bobtaco says:

    At one point (I think about 2 years ago) the Giants were considering dealing Tim Lincecum to the Blue Jays for Alex Rios, who turned them down.

    Do you think Cashman could have traded Robinson Cano for Lincecum?

    Late night off topic… not that I hate Cano or want him off the team by any stretch, but would you trade Cano for Lincecum now? Probably in a cocaine heartbeat, as the kids say, right?

  20. Maybe it’s just our modern bias towards the 100-pitch milestone, and it’s not really that big a deal at all. But for someone with Burnett’s injury history, it’s hard not to be concerned. It’s probably no big deal, but it’s tough to ignore, again, because of our modern biases.

    It sounds like you’re very biased. We just can’t have that in a blogger. I’m very troubled by your bias.


  21. Make it 27 says:

    Side note: Jeter on defensive ratings/UZR….

    But Jeter — who claims to not even use the Internet — isn’t about to crunch his own numbers to check up. He still turns a quizzical eye toward an analysis performed at the University of Pennsylvania, which read every ball put in play between 2005 and 2007 and labeled him at the bottom of the pack.

    “You can’t sit around and figure out a defensive chart on somebody,” Jeter said. “I mean, that’s impossible to do, so I don’t pay attention to it. There’s different pitchers, different hitters, different runners and different people playing different positions. You cannot do it.

    “Everybody doesn’t play the same position, everybody doesn’t get hit the same ground ball, everyone doesn’t have the same runner. So you can’t figure out a mathematical equation on it. If Ichiro hits a ball in the same spot that a slower runner does, how can you compute that in a computer? You can’t do it.”

    • V says:

      Sounds like someone who’s self-deluded. By the numbers, by my eyes (“PastadivingJeter”), by the scouts, he was a HORRIFIC fielder in 2005-2007. 2008 and 2009 have been an absolute revelation.

      • Make it 27 says:

        Horrific? While gold gloves arent exactly the best measure of a player’s defense, you cannot be a horrific defender and win 3 straight gold gloves. While I agree 08 and 09 have shown great improvements in his range, the idea that defense can be computerized is absurd. I’ve read up some on UZR so and I still don’t fully grasp how certain things are measured so I actually have a question if anyone can help answer.

        If Ortiz is up and an infield shift is on and he hits a groundball to a spot where normally Jeter would be but in this case it is vacated, how does UZR judge that? Does it judge it from where the player is positioned according to the hitter? Does it take infield conditions into account (grass, turf, weather, generally good/bad infield)? Does it take into account how many times a runner is on first and a fielder is playing DP depth?

        If anyone can answer, it is appreciated.

  22. pete c. says:

    Did anyone talk about Swishers catch in right, 1st inning I think. Everything he does in the outfield is an adventure. As much as I’d like to see Cashman trade for another starter, he really needs to look into getting more reliable outfield help.

  23. Pete c. says:

    Thanks Sensei.

  24. [...] July 27th, 2009 @ Rays (box) (video) (RAB recap) Pitching Line: 7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 114 pitches Game Score: [...]

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