It took A.J. Burnett 11 seasons to finally play in the postseason. It took four starts to finally win his first postseason game, but it was the biggest win of his career. Starring at an 0-2 hole and the disgrace of losing to Pedro Martinez, A.J. manned up like some knew he could and others thought he never would.
Burnett has endured a lot of scrutiny this postseason. More so than normal because of his preferred use of Jose Molina as a catcher as opposed to Yankee stalwart Jorge Posada. Until last night it looked as though Burnett's preference was in no way aiding his performance and of course now it looks genius.
Burnett threw seven innings of four hit baseball, striking out nine and only allowing one run. It could be argued that the run should not have even scored. Alex Rodriguez could easily have snagged that ball and thrown out the sluggish Matt Stairs.
Burnett lacked his usual wildness. He pounded the zone, throwing first pitch strikes to 22 of the 26 batters he faced. It is unlikely that any other pitcher matches Cliff Lee's Game 1 performance, but Burnett's crisp seven inning's will be tough for another pitcher to match with these two teams' lineups.
Aside from Burnett there is little to be said about another Yankee that is good. Sure Mark Teixeira hit a big home run and so did Hideki Matsui. It is nice that Jorge Posada came through with a clutch single off of Chan Ho Park, but really they were facing an old and decrepit Pedro Martinez. The guy didn't have much and it showed. He was constantly in the middle of the plate and the Yankees refused to make him pay for it. And don't even get me started on Derek Jeter bunting with two strikes. Can someone inform him that he has 2,747 career hits and that his career postseason batting average is .311? Just swing the bat already.
And because it didn't amount to anything I wont bother talking about the umpiring mistakes in this game. The umpiring has been ok in the series but slipped a bit last night.
So now we have a proper off-day as the teams hit the highway and head to Philly. This is where the Yankees can get back into the series. Cole Hamels has been inconsistent all year and just plan bad in the postseason. Pettitte has been reliable so the match up probably favors the Yankees.
Oh and Alex Rodriguez has been just awful so far in the series. 0-8 with six strikeouts is pretty dreadful. It looks like he has lost his swing a bit. Rodriguez can be forgiven for his Game 1 performance, but tonight against Pedro he was missing pitches right over the plate and was waving at cheap breaking balls away. That could be bad newsz for the Yankees. Without A-Rod as a force in the middle of that lineup they don't win the ALCS and they need someone to step up for him or he needs to get his groove back or things could get ugly.