So much about last night’s game looked the same as always, and so much of it sounded the same as ever. Joe Girardi talked about Burnett’s raw talent pregame, then Burnett fell apart in the second inning, then Burnett tried to stay positive and the Yankees tried to stay supportive postgame.
But I actually thought last night’s game felt different. At least, I thought postgame felt different. Burnett was still focusing on the positive, but he seemed legitimately embarrassed by the negative. Girardi committed to Burnett in the rotation, but it had the sense of desperation, not the ring of an endorsement.
“With all these doubleheaders, we gotta play games,” Girardi said. “We need six men.”
There was also a genuine effort to point out flaws, and although Burnett, Girardi and Russell Martin focused on different things, it’s hard not to wonder how many of these things are connected: The command to the mechanics, the mechanics to the confidence, the confidence to the aggressiveness, the aggressiveness to the command.
“If I knew, I’d probably go out there and tell him something to change what he’s doing. It’s really just location at this point. He’ll make a couple of good pitches with his fastball, and then the next one will be belt-high and guys at this level, they don’t miss it. I think the biggest thing is falling behind in counts. He’s not the type of guy that has the best command of his offspeed stuff, so hitters are more selective. They wait for fastballs. If you get in a fastball count and you get a fastball that’s in the zone to handle, they’re going to hit it.”
“If you’re struggling this bad, you’re going to be mentally frustrated, no matter who you are in any walk of life. It comes down to mechanics for me. It’s everything being on time. Pitchers walk a fine line. If they don’t throw it on the corners and the outer edges with a lot of movement, they’re going to get hit hard. I don’t care who you are. Right now he’s making mistakes in the middle.”
“I think I need to pitch in more. I think guys are sitting away and sitting hook. In the past ,I could get away with a lot of that throwing 97, 98. I have great stuff still, but I don’t throw that hard, so I need to start using both sides of the plate a little more and I think that’s going to help with the hook and getting them off the fastball away… If guys are comfortable out there, they’re going to take good swings off you. And guys are comfortable out there. I can see it. I pitched in after that second inning, and I saw some differences. Guys taking pitches and the hook was better. I definitely learn from that, pay attention to that, and use it. And use it as a weapon.”
Associated Press photo