A.J. Burnett has made seven starts since his last win. In six of them he’s allowed either three or four runs. No more, no less. In other words, we’ve seen this start before.
On a night that ended with two fairly stunning moments — Rivera giving up the homer, Granderson being picked off at first — the only thing stunning about Burnett’s outing was its predictability. He’s consistently given the Yankees starts they could win with a pretty good night at the plate, but Burnett has yet to pick this team up and end the winless streak himself.
“Of course it’s frustrating,” he said. “But I’m leaving it all on the field.”
Burnett was having a good night until the sixth. He said he wouldn’t beat himself up too much about the Bobby Abreu homer. “It’s two rows up,” he said. On the walk to Peter Bourjos, Burnett thought he “barely” missed the strike zone. The go-ahead, two-run double was a “pretty good hook” to Jeff Mathis, who came to the plate hitting .180 with one extra-base hit since July 2.
“I wouldn’t change a lot that I did,” Burnett said. “I pretty much pitched with conviction all night.”
As he’s done all year, Joe Girardi left no doubt that Burnett’s spot in the rotation is secure, and Burnett finally seemed agitated when he was asked whether he would expect to be the Yankees No. 2 starter if the playoffs started tomorrow.
“I’m not answering that question,” he said. “I’ll answer that question when the playoffs start. We’ve got a long time.”
Mariano Rivera had not allowed a home run at Yankee Stadium since May 16 of last year. He’d allowed a home run to an ex-teammate only once in his career (Mike Stanley in 1998 according to ESPN Stats and Information). Just two days after his fifth blown save of the season, Rivera took his second loss.
“It can happen any time,” Rivera said. “You have to make sure that a pitch gets there, and this time I didn’t.”
As for Curtis Granderson, there were runners at the corners with two outs and Mark Teixeira at the plate as the winning run. The Angels had already shown the fake-to-third pickoff move twice, and Granderson thought he was playing the odds.
“You never really see too many teams do it that many times in an inning, so the odds are he’s probably not going to do it again,” Granderson said. “There’s two strikes there. I don’t have too many options to get to second base. I just wanted to make it one more step closer, to go ahead and make it into scoring position.”
• The Yankees have lost three in a row for the first time since that three-game sweep against Boston in early June. They haven’t won a season series against the Angels since 2003 and have a 47-56 record against them since 2000, their only losing record against an AL opponent in that span.
• Burnett leads the league with 15 wild pitches. “Russ blocks that 99 percent of the time,” he said.
• Burnett is winless in his last 14 starts in the month of August, going 0-9 with a 6.72 ERA. That stretch started on August 29, 2008, so obviously it includes all of his August starts with the Yankees.
• Granderson leads the league with 101 runs scored after hitting his 29th home run of the season. He’s one shy of his career high of 30 homers, which he reached with Detroit in 2009.
• Brett Gardner has now stolen 22 consecutive bases without being caught. That’s the longest Yankees streak since Derek Jeter stole 22 straight from July 20, 2001 to June 2, 2002. According to Elias, it’s the longest single-season streak by a Yankee since Rickey Henderson stole 28 straight in 1988.
• Jeter has 16 RBI in his past 16 games. Since returning from the disabled list he’s hitting .303 with eight doubles, one triple, two home runs and 21 RBI in 29 games.
• By the way, Jeter had 20 RBI in his 62 games this season.
• Andruw Jones was 0-for-7 with a walk as a pinch hitter this season before singling in the eighth.
Associated Press photos