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Postgame notes: “That’s just how A.J. is”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Notes, Podcast on Oct 05, 2011 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

It took A.J. Burnett exactly six pitches to walk his first batter tonight. Larry Rothschild went to the mound after five hitters, Cory Wade was throwing in the bullpen before the third out, and the only thing that let Burnett escape the first inning was a leaping, falling catch by Curtis Granderson.

That was the beginning of Burnett’s biggest start of the year, a game that saved the Yankees season and salvaged some of Burnett’s.

“That’s A.J.,” Russell Martin said. “He wasn’t that erratic. That’s just how A.J. is, really. I didn’t have to say anything to him. I gave him a little neck message, and he went back to work … Gave him a little rubdown, sort of like a boxer in his corner.”

It was occasionally a high-wire act, but like Martin said, that’s A.J. He walked four and gave up four hits, but he also gave the Yankees 5.2 innings on a night they gladly would have accepted four. After Wade got loose in the first inning, the Yankees didn’t have to use a reliever until the sixth.

“A lot of times, for starters, that first inning is the toughest inning to get through, and you kind of get your feet wet,” Joe Girardi said. ” He hadn’t started a game in a while, in about eight or nine days. But he got through it, and then he pitched really well.

“… I was proud of what he did. In a must-win situation for us, he pitched one of his best games of the year. I’ve said all along, the Tigers swing the bat. To be able to shut them down, he gave up the one solo homer and gave up a double and proceeded to get out of that inning. We were all excited for him and very proud of what he did.”

For Burnett it was redemption. No one rips A.J. Burnett quite like A.J. Burnett, and even tonight he was a little bit hard on himself — said he should have pitched deeper, gave the defense a ton of credit — but he also stuck with his mantra of staying positive.

“Maybe it took me 25 to 30 (pitches) to get loose,” he said. “Maybe. I don’t know. I was just letting it go, and if it didn’t go for a strike, it didn’t go. I wasn’t worried about it. I got the ball and was able to do it again. I was able to find somewhat of a rhythm after that. It was a little nerve-racking in the first. I hadn’t been out there in a while.”

The Yankees didn’t plan to have him out there this time, but Friday’s rain forced their hand, and Burnett forced a winner-take-all Game 5. It started out nearly as bad as the Yankees could have imagined, but on night of redemption and second chances, Burnett got it going and kept the Yankees alive.

“I knew I was overthrowing, but I wasn’t going to think about it,” he said. “When you think about it, that’s when it goes more south… I wasn’t going to let little things bother me. I didn’t care if I walked eight, whatever. How many hits, how many homers you give up, I was just going to get the ball back and let it fly. I took that approach tonight, and it worked.”

Here’s Burnett.

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Here’s Girardi.

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• Burnett said it more than once, and it was true every time: “We don’t win tonight without defense.” A double play, Derek Jeter snagging a line drive, a few nice plays by Alex Rodriguez and — of course — Curtis Granderson’s pair of run-saving catches in center field.

• Granderson said it was his second catch, the Superman dive into left-center, that was the more difficult of the two. “Because of the distance I had to go,” he said. “The first one, I didn’t have to move too far, but I did have to freeze on it. It does make that play very difficult. Once you end up on your heals, now it’s hard to go ahead and generate some speed. For the second on, to have to go as far as I did and then to have to leave my feet like that, the good thing I thought if I do miss that one, Gardner is there. For the first one, if I miss that one, there’s nothing there but the wall back there and some ivy.”

• No surprise, but Girardi committed to Ivan Nova absolutely getting the start on Thursday.

• Girardi also said CC Sabathia will be in the bullpen on Thursday. “I plan on him being available to us,” Girardi said.

• With Cory Wade up in the first inning, Girardi said he was fully prepared to make a move that early. “I can’t tell you that I was going to take him out, I can’t tell you I was going to leave him in,” Girardi said. “But I had the guy up in case that first inning got away from us a little bit.”

• Girardi wasn’t sure what he would have done if there were another base runner after Jhonny Peralta’s double in the fourth inning. “Very possible I make a change there, yes,” Girardi said. Burnett struck out the next two batters and stayed in the game.

• How wild was that first inning? Girardi said he thought it was Wade he had getting loose, but he wasn’t sure. After all that happened tonight, he was perfectly willing to believe it was Phil Hughes.

• Speaking of Hughes, he finally got in a game with a scoreless eighth inning. Jesus Montero also saw his first division series action with two hits, including a pinch-hit RBI single in his first career postseason at-bat.

• Alex Rodriguez got his first two hits of the division series. They both came in that six-run eighth when struggling Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher also had hits. “I said our guys are having decent at-bats,” Girardi said. “They have a pretty good pitching staff here. There was a lot of talk about it. I talked about Adrian Beltre today. It doesn’t take much for a guy to be a huge impact. I thought Al had a huge RBI after getting down 0-2 in the count, I thought that was a big RBI.”

• Jeter on his two-run double that put the Yankees on the board: “I actually thought he caught it. After seeing the replay, the ball bounced right back up to him, and he bare-handed it. From my vantage point, all I saw was his back. That’s why I stopped at second. I thought he had caught it and that was double play. Austin has run down a few of my fly balls over the years. But fortunately for us, that one fell in.”

• Two more hits for Brett Gardner who’s having a nice series. His batting average is up to .385 in these first four games.

• We’ll give the Captain the final word tonight: “We enjoy playing at home,” Jeter said. “If you are going to win a championship, you have to play well at home, you have to play well on the road. We were fortunate to get a split here and bring it back to New York on Thursday. I’m pretty sure our fans will be vocal, excited and so will the Tigers. It’s going to be a challenge for us. Hopefully we can win one more game.”

Associated Press photos





60 Responses to “Postgame notes: “That’s just how A.J. is””

  1. deleonj October 5th, 2011 at 2:04 am

    Ok. Now I can go to sleep. Good win today!

  2. Pat M. October 5th, 2011 at 2:42 am

    I often wonder if Russel Martin’s contributions get slighted by some loyal LoHuders because of the perception that he’s blocking Jesus Montero….Although I can readily understand this however I feel this logic is flawed…..Jesus will be deployed next season as the club’s primary DH and will also be Giradi’s backup catcher…..He’s the pitching staff’s best friend out there, just watch how he handled AJ last night……Curtis Granderson’s full diving catch was one of October’s great catches …..Had it been two weeks from now it’d be up there with Willie’s 54 catch and Swoboda’s catch in 69……….In closing I would once again apologize to the bloggers and LGY for the in game debate……Seldom ever go there and certainly during a great Yankee win wasn’t the forum for such behavior…..

  3. UnKnown October 5th, 2011 at 2:47 am

    And Jorge gets at least one more game at YS. Love that. He has been awesome this series too. Drawing some big walks and even wearing a pitch. Anything to get on. Sado with some unexpected contributions.

  4. Curt Schilling was a steroid user October 5th, 2011 at 2:57 am

    I apologize too, to you Pat M, for acting like a jerk. We get it, you know baseball, you’ve been around baseball for a long time. But others know baseball too and all of us have different opinions.

    I think Martin takes a beating because his offense is lacking sometimes, and there’s no way to quantify how much he helps a pitching staff. Im sure he does help the pitching the staff, but AJ Burnett performed like crap all season, with Martin as the catcher. There’s really no way to quantify it. I dont think blocking Montero has anything to do with anything.

    Posada has been huge this series. I love seeing him in the dugout, seeing the desire written on his face. After all these years and 5 rings, Posada still wants it more than anyone. I love that man. Id give my life for that man.

  5. GreenBeret7 October 5th, 2011 at 3:11 am

    Pat., don’t forget the two ’69 Series catches by Tommy Agee and the perfect game catch by Mantle on Gil Hodges in left center. Even the Sandy Ameros catch on Berra in ’55 that cost the Yanks the WS.

  6. stuart a October 5th, 2011 at 3:19 am

    aj did his job today, thanks aj….

    martin defensively is great offensively no. he is a first pitch swinge big time…

    i also think montero will be main dh next year and backup catcher to martin or romine….

  7. Don Vito A. Bellamo October 5th, 2011 at 3:46 am

    NOW who looks like they are advancing?

  8. Trigeminal Neuralgia Yank October 5th, 2011 at 6:39 am

    Good job boys…. Now start rolling

  9. MG October 5th, 2011 at 7:10 am

    Great team win by the Yankees last night, it looks like Arod and Teix’ bats are coming alive (finally).

    I know the sliding catch by Grandy was more spectacular but the one in the 1st inning probably saved the game, it would have scored 3 runs and put them in a hole.

    everyone noticed how good Hughes threw the ball last night, that was the best he’s been since the ALDS start against the Twins last year.

    they need to jump on Fister early on Thursday and keep Verlander in the dugout, you don’t want him out there in the 4th or 5th inning for 6 or 7 outs and eliminate the opportunity to beat up on the Tigers secondary relievers.

    I’m feeling like the Yankees break out the long ball on Thursday and put a crooked number up early, Nova pitches well into the 6th, and the bullpen takes it from there (at least I hope so).

  10. Gary October 5th, 2011 at 7:21 am

    Morning, great game last night to even the series. Good defense and timely hitting. Yanks really shut the game down in relief, Detroit went pretty quietly. Interesting no longball by the Yanks in both games.

    No chance to see Verlander. Leyland isn’t that type of manager.

  11. sunny615 October 5th, 2011 at 7:59 am

    This time, I’ll be praying to the Gods of offense to keep those Yankee bats humming. Fister will definitely be a hard target, but getting 4 runs off Verlander when he was doing his Nolan Ryan impression was (and still is) impressive.

  12. Yankee Trader October 5th, 2011 at 8:01 am

    Good morning.

    From NY Daily News:

    Jesus Montero made his postseason debut Tuesday night by pinch-hitting for Jorge Posada in the eighth inning. With the at-bat, Montero became the youngest Yankee to appear in a playoff game since Tommy Carroll, who was 19 years old when he played in the 1955 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. Montero, who is 21, singled in a run in his first at-bat and added another hit in the next inning. “Everybody was getting hits in that inning (the eighth) and they got happy and I stepped in there and it’s like, ‘I’ve got to get a base hit, too.’ I was relaxed, calm. It was awesome.”

    Get thru this series and it looks like Monstero will have a chance to have a big part in the ALCS hitting against lefty starters Wilson, Holland and Harrison.

  13. blake October 5th, 2011 at 8:04 am

    “I often wonder if Russel Martin’s contributions get slighted by some loyal LoHuders because of the perception that he’s blocking Jesus Montero…”

    I think most fans understand that Martin has to play because of his defense and how he handles the staff …….I just think at the same time fans are frustrated that Montero can’t seem to get into these games……….they need Martin to catch and Posada is doing his job at DH so fans are just frustrated because they know they have a difference making bat with incredible bat speed just sitting over there with no way to get him in the game.

    Again last night feels great for several more reasons than just the win……AJ pitched great and really has been much much better his last 3 or 4 starts…..he shut Boston down in his last start. That not only saved this series…..but could have an effect on the ALCS if they advance.

    Arod finally looked like he was getting to the ball last night……I said earlier yesterday that he’s busy playing too well defensively for his knee to be bothering him that much so I was hoping it was just timing and it could be that that’s the case…..getting him hot would be huge

    Hughes looked like another pen weapon last night…..not a mop up guy.

    Got Supernova at the stadium Thursday…..gonna enjoy this off. :)

  14. blake October 5th, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Verlander has the best pure arm since Nolan I think… really is incredible how he can throw a baseball

  15. blake October 5th, 2011 at 8:09 am

    The Yanks also finally made the decision to not pitch to Miguel Cabrera with runners on base…….they walked him early and that’s what they have to do……even moreso at YS where he is super dangerous….

  16. Yankee Trader October 5th, 2011 at 8:11 am

    AJ did a great job after the 1st inning, getting a lot of 1st pitch strikes and ground balls.

    Seeing Hughes hit 95 again and strike out a batter with the high heat was encouraging.

  17. JCPD October 5th, 2011 at 8:12 am

    MTU,kate and Erin…. whenever you get here…… I’m off to the Adirondacks for some fall colors, hiking and picture taking…….

  18. Betsy October 5th, 2011 at 8:15 am

    Lots of things to love about that game last night, starting with AJ and Granderson………… IF AJ is going to take grief for his performances, then he has to get plaudits for helping to save his teams bacon. Of course, without Granderson’s catch…………..

    Blake, Hughes looked fantastic last night………and it wasn’t just velocity; he had really good stuff. He looked very good his last outing in Tampa, as well.

    I’m happy for Alex; I hope he has a huge game on Thursday – and that those fans that booed him sit on their hands.

  19. MTU October 5th, 2011 at 8:16 am


    Have a great trip. Sounds like a good one. I can still remember the Adirondacks from when I lived back there. Love that area.

    Mother nature spoiled the one I had planned for this week but I might get another shot next week.

  20. Betsy October 5th, 2011 at 8:17 am

    Pat M, I think that’s very true about Martin…………I personally have never cared about his offense; I think he contributes a lot to this team regardless of how well he does or doesn’t hit.

  21. MTU October 5th, 2011 at 8:18 am


    Yes. Burnett gets enormous credit for coming through like he did.

    And you’re right, he saved our bacon.


  22. upstate kate October 5th, 2011 at 8:18 am

    good morning all :)

    Have a great time JCPD. We finally have a sunny day! Sorry your hike didn’t work out MTU, but the upside is you got to see a great game!

  23. upstate kate October 5th, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Lots to like about last night’s game. I got a laugh when Martin almost caught up w/ Po crossing the plate.

  24. Yankee Trader October 5th, 2011 at 8:23 am


    Hopefully the Yankees have a big lead into the last 3 innings tomorrow and we don’t see Verlander in a tight game in the late innings. No 2001 Randy Johnson heroics pitching 1.1 innings in relief- Game 7, getting the win after winning game 6.

  25. Betsy October 5th, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Ugh, I forgot about Verlander potentially coming into the game……..

  26. blake October 5th, 2011 at 8:25 am

    How about Brian Anderson actually knowing who Gary Sanchez is last night……he’s good…..should do more games.

  27. Gary October 5th, 2011 at 8:26 am

    pretty fickle Detroit Fans, they whopped it up during the Verlander game, but sat there in total silence and left in droves early yesterday. Maybe they know the next time they see them it will be next April. :-)

    Wonderful how the Yankee pen including Hughes shut them down. Ball was really poping.

  28. Betsy October 5th, 2011 at 8:26 am

    I love this pic…….

  29. blake October 5th, 2011 at 8:27 am

    One thing about Verlander coming in…..he starts slow. His first couple of innings aren’t scary…..its innings 3-9 where he’s unreal.

    The rain has officially helped the Yankees now that they are going to game 5…….now maybe the Yanks win in 4 without the rain…..but as it stands now they have a game 5 and Verlander isn’t starting it…….he would have originally.

  30. Betsy October 5th, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Wow, apparently Smoltz said that this was a good loss for the Tigers………..there is no such thing as a good loss in the post-season and Smoltz should know that.

  31. upstate kate October 5th, 2011 at 8:28 am

    Granderson’s plays were #1 on espn’s top 10 this am.
    BTW: Leyland also calls him “Grandy” and also adds the “Y” to other players.

  32. Yankee Trader October 5th, 2011 at 8:29 am

    I’m ashamed to admit it. I followed AJ on ESPN gamecast, while watching the Yankee at bats on TV. Just too nervous and I guess superstitious to actually watch him pitch!

    I reviewed his outing this morning on

    Crazy? :)

  33. Erin October 5th, 2011 at 8:29 am

    So….how about that AJ?? ;)

    And the Grandyman definitely can.

  34. blake October 5th, 2011 at 8:29 am

    Theo to the Cubs?

    You can guarantee that Sox fans are sitting there wondering if their team would have been better with Beltre and Vmart instead of Gonzalez and Crawford……and they’d still have their 3 best prospects…….

  35. upstate kate October 5th, 2011 at 8:30 am

    I missed that Betsy. How is that a good loss? Now your team has to come back to YS and face a pitching re-match where you lost the first time. Especially seeing how everyone hit last night. No way to spin that as a positive.

  36. Betsy October 5th, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Plus, of course, kudos to the pen…..AJ “only pitched just over 5 innings so really the pen threw almost as many innings as he did

  37. blake October 5th, 2011 at 8:31 am

    I love Smoltzy but he has been pretty rough in this series…..he’s not really an announcer anyway and being from Detroit is clearly coming across. Anderson and Darling have been great IMO

  38. upstate kate October 5th, 2011 at 8:32 am

    After the Rays /Rangers game I said to my husband “I bet the red sox wished they still had Beltre” and during our game I said the same thing about V-mart.

  39. Betsy October 5th, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Kate, I read it on another website – apparently Smoltz has been anti-Yankee so this guy was pointing out another in long line of weird comments by the guy). The Tigers can clearly win game 5, but this isn’t the 162 game regular season – games are really precious in the post-season.

  40. Erin October 5th, 2011 at 8:33 am

    Alex break:

  41. blake October 5th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Beltre was Boston’s best player last year……and Vmart is a significantly better hitter than Crawford is.

  42. Yazman October 5th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    Quick AJ story:

    My 13 yr old son went to a game in Baltimore with my parents, who park in the handicap lot, which apparently is near the players’ lot. They arrived very early, and my dad spied AJ, who was starting that night.

    My son ran up to him with a pen and a napkin (all he could find). AJ couldn’t have been nicer, taking a moment to chat with him, sign the napkin, and even tell my son it was great to see such a devoted Yankee fan at his age.

    AJ proceeded to get bombed that night…;c_id=mlb

    It’s great to see a game like last night. He may well not earn his paycheck, but there’s no doubt he tries his best, in every facet of the game (including with teammates and fans).

  43. Erin October 5th, 2011 at 8:35 am

    JCPD October 5th, 2011 at 8:12 am
    MTU,kate and Erin?. whenever you get here?? I?m off to the Adirondacks for some fall colors, hiking and picture taking??.


    Awesome! Have a great time. Can’t wait to see the pictures :)

  44. Yankee Trader October 5th, 2011 at 8:37 am

    “Then I said, ‘I want two balls,’” A-Rod added.


  45. Erin October 5th, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Yazman-that’s really cool, and I’m sure your son will never forget it.

  46. blake October 5th, 2011 at 8:38 am

    AJ earned his paycheck for the season last night……that’s just the way it is. He saved the season.

    Rothschild was a HUGE addition to this team….

  47. upstate kate October 5th, 2011 at 8:39 am

    nice story Yaz, and what a good impression to make on a young fan.
    I don’t think there is any doubt AJ is a good person. He can just be so incredibly frustrating at times.

    I saw Alex and Miggy joking during the game. At least he has a sense of humor about his lack of hitting.

  48. Betsy October 5th, 2011 at 8:40 am

    AJ is a very good teammate…….that doesn’t mean it’s not frustrating to watch him pitch, but he does seem like a very good guy.

  49. pat October 5th, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Ken Rosenthal
    The #Tigers didn’t like him in center. Some metrics don’t like him in center. The #Yankees like him in center. #MLB

  50. blake October 5th, 2011 at 8:43 am

    Defensive metrics are dumb. In the SI article by Verducci where they are talking about Theo and Carmine it talks about how the Sox have their own in house defensive evaluations because the mainstream ones just aren’t accurate. Granderaon isn’t the best CF in baseball…..but he’s above average and anyone that believes otherwise isn’t watching the games.

  51. 108 stitches October 5th, 2011 at 8:46 am

    There should be a momentum shift returning to the Stadium tomorrow. All hands on deck. Girardi and coaches should go over video and look for every edge not to allow the big thumpers in Detroit’s linup to become heroes. The Yankee bullpen is ready and rested.

  52. pat October 5th, 2011 at 8:46 am

    Doesn’t sound like either team is having workouts today- just managers and Nova/Fister have to be at the Stadium to do media.

    Gonna be a long 36 hours without any new news.

  53. pkyankfan69 October 5th, 2011 at 8:52 am

    I couldn’t beliene when Coke came out to face Arod-Tex-Swish in the 8th.
    Why let them face a lefthander??? Terrible move Leyland.
    Not only did it ruin game 4 but hopefully wakes the trio up for game 5, esp Arod.

  54. Yankee Trader October 5th, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I couldn’t believe when Coke came out to face Arod-Tex-Swish in the 8th.
    Leyland has made some questionable moves with his bullpen-righty Alburquerque to face lefty Cano.

    But it did give us a chance to see Montero!

  55. Erin October 5th, 2011 at 9:01 am

    New Post- Girardi: “We have an opportunity”


  56. syd_cash October 5th, 2011 at 9:14 am

    lol @ Granderson’s comment “For the first one, if I miss that one, there’s nothing there but the wall back there and some ivy”

  57. Bronx Jeers October 5th, 2011 at 9:14 am


    I was at that game as well. Many wondered why I would be driving 200 miles towards a hurricane. And AJ really heard it that night. I always knew there was a big Yankee fan presence at Camden but never realized just how big it is.

    AJ’s really an enigma. Many don’t like him as a baseball player but as a person off the field, he’s entirely likable. You’ll never see a fan wearing a #34 jersey but everybody sort of roots for him. I’m ecstatic that he pitched well last night and the Yankee season continues but there’s something deeper as well. I guess he’s like the underdog-outsider that many identify with.

  58. longtimefan October 5th, 2011 at 9:56 am

    Great team effort last night for a much needed win. AJ did what he had to do and actually looked pretty good after the first. Hughes had that look when he came into the game, nice fastball touching 95, his best pitching may be out of the pen. Can’t say enough about Granderson, IMO, one of the most underrated yankees, glad he is with us and not Detroit.
    Lets wrap this up tomorrow night.

  59. MR. STEINBRENNER October 5th, 2011 at 1:23 pm


  60. Yazman October 5th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    Thanks Erin, thanks Kate. You’re so right.

    Great point, Bronx Jeers.

    It’s funny, my parents gave my sons a weekend trip for their birthdays anywhere (nearby) they wanted. One picked Baltimore to see a Yankee game.

    I was in DC on business, hurricane ended my event early, so I grabbed a $7 ticket on Stubhub to join them, and just sat in the empty seat right next to my son.

    It would have been nice if AJ pitched a little better that night, but I’m sure we’ll both accept what we got if it meant AJ pitched how he did last night!

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