Joe Girardi remembers how his old manager, Don Zimmer, used to talk about “personality hits.” If a guy was particularly scuffling at the plate and his confidence was down, one hit – just one – could be enough to turn his outlook around. Along those lines, tonight was a “personality win” for A.J. Burnett, Girardi said, as the righthander got his first victory since July 28.
Now obviously Burnett pitched well at points during that stretch – eight innings of one-run ball against the Royals most notably – but there’s something to be said for feeling like you’re a part of the team’s success, and even Burnett admitted it felt good to finally get a win.
“It helps – it’s a good win for the team,” he said. “My job is to go out and do what I did tonight. I’m going to pitch well and now’s the time to do it.”
That was a common theme, as both Burnett and Derek Jeter talked about the importance of forgetting their less-than-appetizing season statistics since all that matters now is what happens over these next four weeks or so. “I don’t look,” Jeter said when asked about seeing his numbers on the scoreboard. “I’d love to be hitting .350 but that’s not the case.”
Does he care? Of course. But he cares more about contributing, and tonight Jeter went 1-for-5, reached on an error and scored two of the four Yankee runs. Knowing Jeter, he’ll take that and a win every time.
Here’s the Girardi audio:
• What stood out about Burnett’s performance? His curveball and change-up. If those two pitches are on, particularly the change-up, it makes Burnett’s fastball even more dominant. “If (the change) is a good one, it gives hitters something different to think about,” Girardi said. For those who were watching tonight, you might have noticed the change-up with a particularly nasty dive to it; Girardi even likened it to a splitter. “I attacked,” Burnett said.
Here’s some of Burnett’s audio:
• Mark Teixeira now has 50 RBI in his last 53 games going back to July 1, though even he admitted his hits tonight weren’t exactly thunderous blasts. “Two of the hits were actually lucky,” he said. “Ground balls with eyes.”
• Assuming he feels OK tomorrow, Andy Pettitte will throw a simulated game on Saturday. If all goes well, he could be headed on a minor-league rehab outing after that.
• Jorge Posada definitely had a legit gripe over the strike three call from Dana DeMuth in the eighth, but Posada is lucky that he threw his fit tonight instead of yesterday. Since rosters had expanded, the Yankees had Chad Moeller available to come in and catch the ninth. Girardi said he was “really glad” he had Moeller since Eduardo Nunez was already out of the game and Ramiro Pena – who is the emergency catcher – was set to go to third base.
• Nice work out of the bullpen, with Joba Chamberlain getting into and out of trouble in the seventh and Boone Logan, Kerry Wood and Mariano Rivera following him to close the game out. Asked about Logan and Wood, Girardi said, “They’ve meant a lot. They’ve given us options. They give us a nice group of guys down there that can get big outs.” For the record, Logan has retired 27 of the last 31 lefties he’s faced while Wood has allowed just one earned run in 13 1/3 innings since coming to the Bronx.
That’s it for tonight. Back at it tomorrow with CC looking for the sweep. Thanks to everyone for reading.