Pick your inning for A.J. Burnett. Was the first inning the key, when he kept a rocky start from becoming a terrible start? Or was the sixth inning the key, when he stranded the bases loaded after a bizarre infield single off the Tropicana Field catwalk?
After two singles, two stolen bases, a sacrifice bunt and a walk in the first inning, pitching coach Dave Eiland went to the mound with a simple message.
“He’s got good stuff,” Eiland said. “We’re still in the game. Continue to attack. Don’t pick. Take charge.”
Burnett said he didn’t think his stuff was very good today, but Eiland and Jorge Posada told him otherwise and he trusted them. When Burnett attacked with his fastball, he got out of trouble. That included the sixth inning when Evan Longoria singled off the catwalk and Carlos Pena walked to load the bases. It was a two-run game at the time, and Burnett got B.J. Upton to pop up to end the threat.
“He didn’t turn (the first) into a huge inning, that gave us a chance to come back,” Joe Girardi said. “He made his pitches when he had to in that (sixth inning) situation. The interesting thing is, when Longoria hits that ball, you think you’re out of the inning. And then you’ve got to turn it back on again.”
Here’s Burnett talking about his outing, and talking a little bit about getting home for Tuesday’s ring ceremony.
And here’s Girardi talking about the game and the road trip as a whole.
• When Longoria’s ball hit the catwalk, Girardi argued that it hit in foul territory and should be ruled foul. The stadium ground rules say that particular catwalk is in play, making Longoria’s ball live. “It’s not a baseball stadium,” Jorge Posada said. “You can’t have balls going all over the place. It’s sad.”
• Posada said he remembered five changeups from Burnett, and he expects even more as Burnett continues to get used to the pitch. “It’s a swing-and-miss pitch, it really is,” Posada said.
• Someone asked Burnett whether he wears his Marlins World Series ring. “No,” he said. Will he wear his Yankees ring? “Absolutely.”
• A loss today would have meant a split of the opening road trip. Instead, the Yankees took four of six against their top competition in the division. “You try to win every series,” Girardi said “That’s our goal going in. I don’t think you can be satisfied being even. Some people might say you hung in on a tough road trip, but our goal was to win both series.”
• Joba Chamberlain had a bit of a rocky inning. I believe the scoreboard here had him at 93 mph — that’s the fastest I noticed, anyway — and he allowed a run on two hits and a walk. Girardi said some of that can be attributed to Chamberlain haven’t not pitched in a while.
• “They outplayed us once again,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
• Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson are tied for the league lead with three stolen bases apiece.
• Tomorrow’s an off day, with the Yankees working out at the Stadium in the afternoon.
Those are Associated Press photos. The first is obviously Burnett. The smaller photo is Girardi talking to crew chief Wally Bell after the Longoria single.