There were no answers, only frustration in the Yankees clubhouse this afternoon. It was one of the few times you could hear the aggravation in Joe Girardi’s voice.
“That’s a game that we need to win,” he said. ““It’s not what we wanted, and we need to play better. We need to go home and play well. Start winning series. Tying series is not good enough. We need to start winning series.”
The Yankees managed to waste a terrific start from A.J. Burnett, who has inexplicably lost each of his past four complete games. He lost this one because the Yankees couldn’t score against Bryan Bullington, a first-round bust who had never won a major league game until today.
“It’s frustrating because usually guys that come in and dominate us are left-handed pitchers,” Alex Rodriguez said. “Usually we’re able to fare a lot better against a guy like today who throws hard and challenges. He really challenged us all game, and we had nothing for him.”
Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Lance Berkman talked about how often Bullington got ahead in the count, but Bullington threw a first-pitch strike to only nine hitters. Rodriguez guessed Bullington threw 80 to 90 percent fastballs, but good friend Mark Feinsand did the math through Gameday and said the number was closer to 65 percent.
“It’s just one of those days,” Berkman said. “He threw a lot of strikes. He didn’t get into bad counts. He was aggressive in the strike zone. Everything we hit good we hit up in the air, and you weren’t going to hit a ball out of here today with a cannon.”
Bottom line, the Yankees lost and took a split on this road trip. Winning one out of two seemed acceptable in Texas. But two out of four in Kansas City, when Zack Greinke never touched the mound?
“Today would have been nice to put that one in the win column,” Rodriguez said. “Going home 3-3 (on the road trip) is not quite good enough.”
• Burnett was terrific. After allowing those two runs in the first inning, he allowed two hits the rest of the way. The few times he got into trouble — whether because of walks or errors — he seemed to get better, not lose his composure. “I really felt in control,” he siad. “I felt like I could pretty much throw it where I wanted to. It got away from me a couple of times, but I knew I could get back. I had in the back of my mind that I could throw my hook at any time. When you have that confidence, it’s a lot easier.”
• Jeter said players kept coming to the bench saying one thing: “Get him next inning,” Jeter said. “We ran out of innings.”
• Blame it on the Yankees tendency to struggle against pitchers they’ve never seen, but Rodriguez said that wasn’t the problem today. “Transparent” is the word he used to describe Bullington. “There was no guessing game,” Rodriguez said. “It was 80 to 90 percent fastballs. Just right through the strike zone. There were no secrets. Today he was better than us.”
• Rodriguez and Girardi both said they were sure A-Rod’s second-inning drive to center field was leaving the park. It died at the warning track. “I thought it was gone no matter what when he hit it,” Girardi said.
• Girardi was clearly frustrated by the double error play in the sixth inning, when both Robinson Cano and Francisco Cervelli threw the ball away. “The second error probably shouldn’t happen,” Girardi said. “He’s got to pounce on it, then (the base runner) probably doesn’t go.”
• Damaso Marte came through his half-mound bullpen just fine and will try to throw another on Tuesday.
• Brett Gardner — who had faced Bullington twice in the minors — had one of the two Yankees hits. Cano had the other. Gardner was 6-for-18 on this road trip.
• Two hits tied a season low for the Yankees. They were held scoreless for the sixth time.
• CC Sabathia also lost a complete game this season. He did it in Oakland in April.
Associated Press photos of Burnett and Jeter