There are only so many ways to ask the same question, but nearly every writer in Joe Girardi’s office tonight seemed to be searching for new combinations of words that would get to the same point.
How much do the Yankees trust A.J. Burnett right now? Enough to start him in the postseason?
“I’m not going to talk about that now because we’re not in,” Girardi said. “We have to get in first before we can start making decisions.”
Girardi kept coming up with different ways of saying exactly that.
“Yeah I would expect to start in the postseason,” Burnett said. “I just want the ball. Whatever Joe decides, it’s Joe’s decision.”
Tonight, Burnett was bad, and it wasn’t just one or two batters or a couple of missed locations. “It was everything,” he said. There were fastballs down the middle. There was curveballs that “weren’t even close.” Burnett said he threw two good changeups to left-handers, but his changeups to righties were hit.
“You have to get caught up in it,” Burnett said. “It’s a big game, a big night, but the way my season’s been, I’m not going to let it affect me. I’ve been through way worse than tonight.”
Burnett is 4-13 with a 6.67 ERA since the end of May. He’s won one game since the end of July, and tonight was his shortest healthy outing of the season. The only one shorter was the game when he cut his hand in a moment of frustration.
Girardi committed to one thing with Burnett: He will make another regular-season start. He’ll get the ball this weekend in Boston, possibly with Jorge Posada as his catcher.
“He got hit hard tonight, there’s no doubt about it,” Girardi said. “You just have to keep working hard at it. There’s no other way to approach it.”
• The Yankees did not clinch tonight, which means CC Sabathia gets the start tomorrow. “He sure does,” Girardi said.
• Best-case scenario seemed to be pushing Sabathia back to Friday so that he would be on normal rest for Game 1 of the Division Series. “It is what it is and you have to deal with it,” Girardi said.
• The Yankees bullpen tonight: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.
• Before the game, Girardi said Curtis Granderson has been too hot to sit him even against lefties. In the fifth inning, Granderson hit his 24th homer of the year, continuing his impressive pace since those mechanical adjustments in Texas.
• Mark Teixeira has looked much better the past few days, including a home run tonight. It was a three-run shot in the seventh that made this thing a game and gave the Yankees a chance. “It made it a game,” Teixeira said. “But their eighth and ninth inning guys are pretty good and they locked it down when they had to.”
• Speaking of Blue Jays pitchers, Marc Rzepczynski was outstanding, including six straight strikeouts to tie a Blue Jays franchise record. Girardi said players were coming back to the dugout talking about pitches that looked like knuckleballs. “His ball was moving everywhere,” Teixeira said. “We’ve faced him a few times this year and we’ve never seen him that good. It’s like swinging at a ghost out there. You didn’t know what it was going to go do.”
• Burnett against the Blue Jays this season: 0-3 with a 9.61 ERA in four starts.
• The Yankees have now lost the past eight games against left-handed starters… Nine of their past 13 losses have been by three runs or less… They are 11-14 in September, assured of a losing record in the month.
Associated Press photos of Burnett and Jeter with Teixeira