A.J. Burnett had just walked Joe Mauer in the second inning. When Joe Girardi pulled Burnett from the game, Burnett began walking off the mound, turned suddenly and cursed toward Girardi and the gathered Yankees. Girardi seemed to react, but it was hard to tell whether he said anything back to Burnett. When Burnett got to the dugout, went straight to the stairs leading to the Yankees clubhouse. When Girardi got to the dugout, he also went directly to the stairs leading to the clubhouse.
Here’s what was said after the game.
“You can write what you want,” Girardi said. “You can say what you want, but he was pissed because he thought he struck out Joe Mauer. I asked if they thought it was a strike and the guys said they thought it was a strike.”
Girardi grew truly agitated when asked about following Burnett into the clubhouse.
“This is silly,” he said. “This is really, really silly. You know what? We had a fistfight, is what we had. I came in and looked at the pitch. Our video room is right down there. Everyone always seems to want to blow it up about A.J., A.J., A.J. Nothing happened between me and A.J. I went and looked at the pitch. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of people looking for something between me and A.J. Me and A.J. have mutual respect for each other. I cheer for this guy, he cheers for me and we cheer for this team. I want the guy to do well. Everyone’s always trying to say there’s something between me and A.J. What do you want, the pitcher to want to come out of the game? I mean, this is ridiculous.”
It might have seemed ridiculous to Girardi, but watching the scene unfold, it seemed ridiculous for another reason. Burnett seemed to be showing up his manager on the field, and Girardi seemed to be chasing his pitcher to have a chat about those actions. That’s certainly what it looked like.
“No,” Burnett said. “Russ came out and he said, ‘That’s a strike.’ I said, yeah. I was not talking to Joe, absolutely not. No matter how mad I get, that guy’s taken my back every day I’ve been here, (including) last year. No matter how boiling I’m going to be, I’m not going to say a swear at him. Not him. No chance.”
Girardi was supportive as ever after the game. He said he still has confidence in Burnett and the Yankees will work to get him back on track. But this is a bad Twins lineup, and Burnett couldn’t pitch out of the second inning. Freddy Garcia comes off the disabled list in a week, and then the Yankees have to make a rotation decision.
“We’re still on a six-man rotation just because we need to,” Girardi said. “We need this guy to pitch. That’s the bottom line; we need him to pitch like he’s capable of pitching.”
• Burnett said he and Girardi had a conversation “two or three innings later” so that Burnett could explain saying what he said coming off the mound. “We talked about it, for sure,” Burnett said. “I made sure and told him, look man, not you. I told him, as ticked off as I am, not at him. No chance.”
• Burnett said Girardi didn’t tell him to come back to the dugout after he was pulled from the game. “You don’t have to tell me that,” Girardi said. “I’ve been around the game long enough. I came in, put my stuff down and went back to the dugout.”
• Both Girardi and Burnett seemed to think his curveball was alright at moments tonight, but he had no control of the fastball. “It’s a hiccup, man,” Burnett said. “I had a bad night. I’m going to be frustrated and upset about it, but I’m going to come ready to work and ready to get back on a roll. It’s not going to stop me.”
• Burnett thought his last pitch to Mauer was a strike, but he also seemed to know he had no room for argument. “You’re not going to give somebody a strike who’s all over the zone,” he said. “That’s the case there.”
• Martin on ball four to Mauer: “If it missed, it missed by a hair. He called that pitch later in the game. Nothing you can do to change that, but it was a good pitch. He just didn’t call it. Whether it was a strike or not; if it missed, it missed by an inch or two. Normally you get that pitch if you’re around the zone. He hit the spot.”
• Martin on Burnett: “It just seemed like they were hitting every fastball that he threw over the plate. He had a hard time locating his curveball for a strike, and when that happens, they kind of just spit on the curveball, spit on the breaking stuff and wait for their fastball. When they got their fastball, they didn’t miss it.”
• Burnett’s 1.2 innings were his fewest in a start since he threw one inning on June 20, 2004 against Atlanta as a member of the Marlins. His 61 pitches were the fewest he’s thrown in a game since September 27, 2010 in Toronto. This was his shortest start as a Yankee.
• Four of Burnett’s five hits went for extra bases. He entered tonight’s game tied for fifth in the American League with 59 extra-base hits allowed.
• Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to 12 games and is hitting .373 in that span. Cano’s season-high hitting streak is 13 games.
• Martin played second base for the first time in his Major League career. He’s played third three times this season.
• Andruw Jones went deep for the second time in as many games. This one did not go into the third deck.
• On the day he got to the Yankees, Aaron Laffey made his debut and allowed two runs on five hits through three innings. He said before the game that he grew up a Yankees fan. “My dad was a big-time Mantle and DiMaggio fan,” he said. “I just kind of fell into the same role. Growing up watching some of these guys, it’s just an honor to be in the same locker room as them.”
Associated Press photos