A.J. Burnett said he didn’t even remember the play, but Alex Rodriguez and Brett Gardner remembered it in great detail. Before Shelley Duncan even got to the plate in the seventh inning, and certainly before Austin Kearns went deep, the Yankees had a chance to catch a foul popup along the left-field line.
It would have been the final out. It dropped between Gardner and Rodriguez.
“I didn’t remember it until you said it,” Burnett said. “It’s on me. I’ve got to stay aggressive. Walks kill you. That’s the bottom line.”
Fair enough. Walks were a significant problem in that seventh inning, and Burnett said the walks bothered him even more than the three-run homer. But Gardner and Rodriguez were still reliving the play they both nearly made, but didn’t.
Gardner: “I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to get to it. I wasn’t sure if Alex was going to be able to get to it. It was kind of one of those right in between us, and I called for it at the very last minute when I realized I could probably dive for it and catch it, but it was too late for him to get out of the way and give me room to be able to completely lay out for it. I kind of went in sideways instead of laying out headfirst for it. I didn’t want to lay out into his knees or ankles or wherever I was going to hit him. Short-armed it a little bit and just didn’t get to it.”
Rodriguez: “Maybe if I get a better jump on that ball, maybe I make that play. Maybe make it a little easier on him. Bottom line, I gotta catch that ball or get a better jump next time. For him to lose a game in that type of situation, it’s not good.”
Gardner did a good job of going into detail about the play, so here’s his audio.
And here’s Burnett.
• Derek Jeter said he felt fine after tonight’s. He’s expecting to play tomorrow, but Joe Girardi said he’ll have to wait until tomorrow to decide. “I was nervous at the beginning,” Jeter said. “It was almost like Opening Day again when you haven’t played in a while. As the game went on, I felt a lot better.”
• Jeter went 0-for-4 in his first game back. “If you don’t get hits, then it’s (bad) timing,” Jeter said. “If you do, they say you’re well-rested. I felt better as the game went on. I felt good in my last at-bat, a pretty good slider that I hit up the middle. I didn’t feel that bad. Obviously you play every day for a reason, but I felt better as the game went on.”
• No tests are scheduled for Mariano Rivera. He doesn’t remember ever feeling this sort of soreness, and he said it wasn’t bothering him during Sunday’s blown save. “When I’m pitching I don’t feel anything,” he said. “It’s after.”
• Burnett said he’s trying to stay positive after each of his starts this season, but it’s obvious that the two seventh-inning walks really bothered him. “I don’t have to worry about that (home run),” he said. “The two walks, when you put guys on, that allowed the inning to happen… They were both 3-2 heaters and they were up a little bit. I’m not going to be nitpicking. I went out there with my best stuff and I can walk away with that.”
• Burnett was amused to find out that Gameday listed his fastballs as cutters tonight. He said he was going to start bragging to Rivera about throwing 94-mph cutters deep into the game.
• Kind of a strange moment early when Burnett got into it a little bit with home plate umpire Mike Estabrook. It started with Burnett asking where a called ball missed the zone, but Estabrook though Burnett was trying to show him up. “I think my hands going up kind of did that,” Burnett said. “I just asked him where it was, but I can do that without throwing my hands up. The first-base umpire helped me out a little bit there and calmed me down, but that’s baseball. Hands stay down and I ask and maybe it doesn’t draw the attention that it drew.”
• Wouldn’t be a Burnett start without him finding a way to speak highly of Russell Martin. “I was able to find my hook here and there and mix in my changeup to lefties,” he said. “That was still a big pitch for me tonight, and I think I kept them off balance with that. (Martin)’s getting to where he knows what I want to do on every pitch.”
• How much was Girardi counting on Burnett tonight? “My bullpen was short tonight,” Girardi said. “I needed him to get through the seventh, and I was going to let him possibly go into the eighth.”
• With Rivera out of the mix, Dave Robertson was the closer for the night.
• Sounds like the shadows were a bit of an issue in the early innings. A few players said they were an issue, but Girardi said he didn’t hear anyone talking about the shadows after at-bats. Everyone seemed to be giving more credit to Josh Tomlin and Burnett rather than placing blame on the shadows.
• Girardi on the decision to option Dickerson: “Just because we were short on pitching. We were trying to give Nuney a couple days, another 48 hours, so we felt like we had to send Dickerson down. Dickerson has played extremely well for us.”
• Nick Swisher’s seventh-inning double seemed huge at the time. He’s hitting .305 with 18 runs, nine doubles, eight homers and 28 RBI in his past 35 games.
• Curtis Granderson hit his 23rd home run… Robinson Cano has an eight-game hitting streak… Mark Teixeira has a five-game hitting streak after breaking up Tomlin’s no-hitter with a leadoff single in the seventh.
• Cano on whether he can win the Home Run Derby: “Why not? Of course. The best thing is to be there, so once you’re there, you never know.”
Associated Press photos