A.J. Burnett knew right away that he didn’t have his best curveball today. He even admitted that he “really let that hook bother me the first couple innings.” The difference between last year and this year, though, is that Burnett refused to let that realization ruin his day.
“In the past, I’d get ticked off at that,” he said. “(Now), I’m not getting bothered by everything.”
Some days, it’s tough. As a pitcher who knows he has a good curveball, it can be difficult for him to keep his mind from wandering if – as he put it – “the 46-foot curveballs aren’t even close.” But after suffering through 2010, Burnett knows his focus has to be better. And on Saturday it was.
Is six innings, four runs a masterpiece? Hardly. But Burnett didn’t let the game get away from him and did enough, yet again, to give the Yankees a chance to win. He’s now 4-1 this year and 9-1 in April as a Yankee, but isn’t content with how he is pitching. If he’s going to continue to succeed, he knows that curveball has to be better.
“I’ve got to try to make it nastier than it is,” he said.
• By the way, Burnett’s pickoff of Rajai Davis in the fifth was his 26th career pickoff, ranking him fourth among active righties. Did Burnett see something that tipped him off on Davis leaning toward second? Nope. Just lucky, as it turned out. “I know they like to run,” Burnett said. “I guessed right.”
• Curtis Granderson refused to take the easy way out, saying that Davis’s leadoff triple wasn’t a ball he lost in the sun. “He just hit it harder than I thought he did,” Granderson said, though he did add that the sun – a notorious problem during 4 p.m. starts – was difficult all the way until the seventh or eighth inning.
• Just to reiterate: No real issues with A-Rod today, he just got a day off. Girardi said he’ll play tomorrow.
• After 0-for-8 with RISP on Friday, the Yankees were 4-for-9 on Saturday and cashed in enough opportunities that it didn’t matter they went hitless from the fourth inning on. The five runs was also the most they’ve scored this season in a game where they didn’t hit a home run (something that’s happened only four times in 24 games).
Do the Yankees care if there are no homers? Not so much, according to Nick Swisher. “I don’t care whether we get ’em by home run or bunt,” Swisher said. “Whatever.” So there you have it.
• Kudos to Rafael Soriano for bouncing back from his rough outing against the White Sox. He came in, faced the middle of the Jays order and did his job, retiring Yunel Escobar, Jose Bautista and Juan Rivera (after Adam Lind singled). Getting Bautista, in particular, was impressive after Soriano fell behind the dangerous outfielder 2-and-0. Did he feel any extra pressure facing such tough hitters? “It didn’t matter,” Soriano said. “I just have to make my pitch.”
• Hard not to notice Jorge Posada’s struggles: He was 0-for-3 today and is now hitting .125.
• Fun with numbers: Seven different Yankees had a hit. Five different Yankees scored a run. Five different Yankees had a RBI. In NBA parlance, I believe they call that a balanced offense.
• Who else to close with but the closer: Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his ninth save of the season, the most he’s ever had before May 1. Rivera has also been kind to those in the Bronx who love to watch him: He’s won or saved 10 of the 11 Yankee home wins this year.
* That’s an AP shot of Burnett from today.