Tonight’s game isn’t quite do-or-die, but it’s close. A win evens the series with CC Sabathia pitching at home tomorrow. A loss leaves the Yankees needing three in a row, two of them in Texas, one of them against Cliff Lee.
“We only have two (games) in a row and then we have a day off,” Joe Girardi said. “So you could manage it a little bit different, but this is an extremely important game. You have to manage it to win, and you have to manage it hard.”
In last year’s ALCS, A.J. Burnett started Game 5 and allowed four runs in the first inning. The Yankees stuck with him into the seventh, and he rewarded that confidence with five scoreless innings. Can’t say for sure, but it seems safe to assume Burnett won’t be working with such a long leash this time.
“I think you go more on the way the guy is throwing the baseball,” Girardi said. “I mean, you can give up some runs by not getting hit hard. That’s the bottom line. And then you know, you give up two infield hits and then you give up a home run. Well, he wasn’t really hit too hard and it’s kind of a bad break. I think you look more at what the outs are like, and that’s what you look at.”
Burnett said he’s aware of the speculation that Girardi might not actually use him in this game. He said he’s heard it, but hasn’t paid attention. Fans he’s come across in his day-to-day life have been nothing but positive. He’s as hard on himself as anyone, and he’s been waiting for this opportunity. It’s a big game for the Yankees, and it’s a big game for Burnett.
“From the work I’ve been doing, I’m in a pretty good groove,” Burnett said. “I haven’t pitched in a long time, so I haven’t struggled in a long time. I don’t worry about what’s happened. From my sim game to the work I’ve done to where I am, I’m where I need to be.”
The Yankees certainly hope so.
• Girardi said he told his agent that he had no desire to discuss the Cubs managerial opening during the season. He never spot to the Cubs, and said he was happy for Mike Quade getting the opportunity. “None of us knows what life holds for us next year, so I try to concentrate on what’s going on and what’s at hand,” Girardi said. “My faith allows me to do that. When I was a 12-year-old kid, the way I would have drew it up is probably not the way it’s went. I don’t really have complaints about the way my life’s went. It’s been good. I feel that I’m extremely blessed.”
• Girardi on Cliff Lee’s stained hat: “You have a lot of guys that have a resin residue. It’s just the way he does it. Every pitcher usually has a little thing that he does. It doesn’t strike me as really odd.” Girardi said he would have asked the umpires to check Lee’s hat if he thought there was anything fishy going on.
• How good was Lee last night? “I didn’t see Doc Halladay’s no-hitter and I didn’t see Don Larsen’s no-hitter,” Girardi said. “That’s as good as I’ve seen.
• How much of Lee’s dominance was caused by the Yankees struggling offense? “He may have had four or five pitches in the middle of the plate the whole night. He lived on the edges. It was a brilliant performance. You go through it enough during the course of the season where you’re not scoring runs for a little bit, then you bust out. You have to stay (even-keel) in this game.”
• Girardi said he told Jorge Posada last night that Cervelli would be catching tonight’s game. “He was OK,” Girardi said. “He said he’d be ready.”
• CC Sabathia said he doesn’t plan to let Andy Pettitte walk away without a fight this offseason. “I’ll be calling him and begging him this offseason to come back,” Sabathia said. “He’s meant a lot to me. Two years that I’ve known him, coming here from day one in spring training, just welcomed me with open arms and any questions I ever had about the organization, about the city or pitching against these guys in the AL East. He’s been more than happy to help me, and I think he’s been a big reason why I’ve had success here so far.”
Elvis Andrus SS
Michael Young 3B
Josh Hamilton CF
Vladimir Guerrero DH
Nelson Cruz RF
Ian Kinsler 2B
David Murphy LF
Bengie Molina C
Mitch Moreland 1B
Associated Press photos of Burnett, and Derek Jeter with David Wells who’s here for some TV work