Good A.J. Is Back!

September 24, 2009 – 10:50 am

Is A.J. Back?NYY 3, Los Angeles 2. Poor A.J. Burnett just doesn’t seem to get much respect these days — and understandably so you would have to say. Over his last 10 starts he’s a miserable 1-5, so you know he’s desperate to pick up a win. And here he is with an opportunity to help the Yankees win their first series in LA since early 2004. But for who knows what reasons, he gets the epitome of a house money lineup — even though Thursday is an off day, four regular starters are getting the day off, including the Nos. 2, 4 and 5 hitters in the lineup. And this against Scott Kazmir, who has a history of dominating the Yankees. But in spite of all that, A.J. goes out and pitches 5.2 strong innings, has a 3-2 lead, and is one out away from getting a quality start. But then Girardi pulls him for none other than Damaso Marte, he of the double-digit ERA! It’s almost as if Girardi wants to insure that A.J. doesn’t pick up a W. But fortunately for Burnett, the stars are all aligned correctly, Marte gets the last out, and bullpen-by-committee can’t even blow this game. Girardi even went so far as to use Ian Kennedy who hasn’t pitched in the majors all year in an attempt to let LA get back in the game. But in the end A.J. got the win, and very deservedly so. That’s back-to-back good outings for him, so maybe, just maybe, he’s getting back on track for the playoffs.

Now to be fair to Girardi, a number of these seemingly questionable management decisions did actually make some sense. Of the four starters that he sat down, three (Damon, Rodriquez, and Swisher) had terrible track records against Kazmir, and the other (Posada) was banged up physically and really did need the day off. And using Kennedy in the eighth was certainly a move to bolster his confidence for next year, when no doubt he will be in the running for the starting rotation. It’s been a very disappointing year for Kennedy, so getting him in there for an inning, particularly in a fairly important game, was a good long-term strategic move. So the fact that he was able to pull all this off and A.J. still got his elusive win — well, hats off to Joe. It’s the end result that counts.

So now the Yankees are back to winning series, and with the Red Sox incredibly losing two of their last three games at Kansas City, what at one point appeared to be a tightening race for the division and home field advantage, is now pretty much over. The challenge now is to keep on keeping on and not have any letdown going in to the post-season. And oh yeah, maybe figure out what the sam hill they are going to do for a fourth starter!

Photo: Yahoo! Sports

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