That was almost awesome. Almost.
Showing signs of life and fighting back in the ninth inning, the Yankees lost 8-6 in what came to be a close game five of the World Series.
You would think when the Yankees jumped out to a quick, 1-0 lead in the top of the first that would give A.J. Burnett some courage and motivation to pitch well.
No such luck, whatsoever.
Burnett lasted only two-plus innings and was charged with six earned runs on four hits. He walked four and struck out two.
It is amazing how hot/cold Burnett can be; in game two he went out and absolutely puzzled the Phillies, giving up only one run on four hits over seven outstanding innings of work. In game five he got absolutely shellacked.
Well, maybe he can regroup and come back a little stronger in 2010, because that will be the next time we see him pitch, unless he comes on in relief in gave six or (if necessary) game seven of the World Series. I don’t see that happening, however.
Chase Utley, the peskiest thorn in the Yankees’ side right now, took Burnett deep in the bottom of the first for a three-run homer, putting the Phils up 3-1 after the Yankees took a 1-0 lead on an RBI double by Alex Rodriguez in the top half of the inning.
Just like that our lead was gone. And it’s not like Utley was happy with one homer.
Later in the seventh, Utley went yard again, this time a solo shot off Phil Coke, pushing the Phillies even further ahead. It was Utley’s fifth home run of the World Series and he tied Reggie Jackson for most home runs in World Series play.
Raul Ibanez joined Utley with a solo shot of his own in the seventh, his first home run of the World Series. Those two solo homers in the inning proved to be the difference in the game, so I really wish Coke hadn’t served them up.
The Phillies scored three runs in the third inning, receiving RBIs from Jayson Werth, Ibanez, and Carlos Ruiz, who just plastered Burnett and the Yankee bullpen in the frame. The third inning was seemingly the nail in the Yankees’ coffin, but they did battle back.
With the tying run at the plate in the top of the ninth, Ryan Madson struck Mark Teixeira out swinging to end the game. A really, really tough loss because had the Yankees somehow rallied back and won the game (like they have done countless time in 2009) they’d be World Champs at this moment.
Down by six runs going into the top of the eighth, the Yankees scored three in the frame to make the game interesting. Rodriguez hit a two-run double and Robinson Cano knocked in a run on a sacrifice fly to make it 8-5, proving that even when they’re down a bunch, the Yankees can fight back and put pressure on the opposing team.
Think about it: the Yankees were down 6-2 at one point in this game. In the top of the fifth, Eric Hinske scored on a groundout by Johnny Damon and at this point, with the Yanks down by four and Cliff Lee still in the game, I thought we had no chance.
But they at least showed life and battled back instead of just giving up.
Jorge Posada scored in the ninth as Derek Jeter grounded into a double play that basically ended the Yankee rally and the game ended not long after that. How often does Jeter do that? Not often. So we can’t put a lot of blame on the captain for that.
We can however put a ton of blame on Burnett for this one. He gave the Yankees no chance to win with the way he pitched and even working with an early lead could not get the job done. He showed a lot of inconsistency, there’s no question.
There are excuses he could make up, like pitching on three days rest threw him off, but he didn’t make those types excuses after the game. And even if he did, no one would believe him. I have to say, Burnett was an enigma this year; almost like the 2007 version of Mike Mussina–you never knew if you were getting a good or bad start from him.
It’s too bad that Burnett’s last start had to be so horrible. Not the best way to end his season, that’s for sure. If I had to give Burnett an overall grade for this year, it would be a C+. He struggled early on, but then hit a hot streak, then a cold streak, then a lukewarm streak.
Two of his five playoff starts were acceptable, one was mediocre, one was pure genius, and I think he wishes his final start last night never even happened. Hot and cold, just like I said.
When a pitcher goes out and tosses a quality start (which is defined as pitching at least six innings and giving up three runs or less) I generally tend not to put a lot of blame on the pitcher. A quality start means that the pitcher gave the team a chance to win the game, and even if the team loses, the pitcher still gave the team an opportunity to win and demonstrated good stuff.
For the most part, Burnett has given the Yankees quality this year, even though he did not win a lot of games, or at least as many games as CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. There were a few games Burnett could’ve won, but his offense did not give him run support or the bullpen did not hold it for him to register the win.
As far as last night goes, I think it was the second biggest start of Burnett’s career. The biggest had to be game two, because it was a must-win and the Yankees needed that game; if they had not won game two of the World Series and Burnett had not been as good as he was, they would have been in grave danger of losing it.
Going into Philly down 0-2…not a pretty picture.
The reason last night was the second biggest start of Burnett’s career…well, it’s obvious: the Yankees would be World Champs right now if he had executed the right way and pitched a good game. He didn’t and they lost, that’s the bottom line.
But for all the fans today who are saying things like, “Burnett is horrible,” or “he has no business on this team,” you all need to get a grip on reality. It is better that he had his bad start in game five rather than game two when they needed to win.
You have to look at the big picture and what Burnett did to help the team win all year; were his critics saying he stunk when he stood toe-to-toe with Josh Beckett and one-hit the Red Sox on Aug. 7? (The game the Yankees won in the 15th inning on a walk-off homer by A-Rod)
Did they say Burnett had no business on the team when he embarrassed the Mets by one-hitting them on June 27? Or what about just this past Thursday when he won game two of the World Series? Did he suck then?
No, he was brilliant. It’s funny how all Burnett’s critics have nothing to say when he performs well and lambaste him when he doesn’t do well. I am saying he did not do well in game five of the World Series and gave the Yankees no chance of winning.
But that doesn’t make him a bad pitcher. Burnett is still capable of winning games and out-dueling some of the best pitchers out there. So we can all layoff A.J. until 2010.
Also, I’d like to add to my defense of Burnett to his critics…how much better would you do? You think you could go out and pitch in front of over 50,000 people and millions watching at home in the World Series? Let’s see how you do. I’m sure you could do so much better (boatloads of sarcasm in that statement)
Hopefully he comes back next year a little stronger, and he got his first year in New York out of the way, which is sometimes what newcomers to the Yankees need; I mean before Chien-Ming Wang won 19 games two seasons in a row, he went 8-5 in his first year. So we’ll see how Burnett responds. I still believe in him and I think he will be fine.
At any rate, we lost a game and we go back home to the Bronx to play game six tomorrow night, no biggie. Being up three games allows a little more margin for error. And I guess you can say when in doubt, turn to the winningest pitcher in postseason history, Andy Pettitte.
He will take the mound against the Yankees’ favorite son and game two loser, Pedro Martinez.
Pettitte was on the mound when the Yankees won the pennant on Oct. 25 and has been in this spot before. He has won more series-clinching games than any other pitcher in Yankees’ history, so this is perfect for him. It seems like just yesterday I remember him taking the hill in game four of the 1998 World Series, a game he and the Yankees won to capture the World Title.
The only concern I have is that he will be throwing on three days rest. Hopefully it won’t make much of a difference. I know Pettitte is old school and works best on regular rest, but I think he can go out in front of Yankee Universe and do it the right way at the new house.
Plus, I just think it would make so much sense winning the whole thing vs. Pedro….
I know it was a rough loss last night, but remember Yankees fans, we are up 3-2 and the Phillies are still facing elimination. It’s not the other way around. The pressure is still on them and thank goodness we are not in their ballpark anymore. Not playing at home was beginning to annoy me.
Well, tomorrow night could very well be it. I’ll be back after game six with more highlights and analysis.
Until then, Go Yankees!!!