The Narrative: Well, this was supposed to be it. I imagine more than one columnist in New York had a piece ready to print about the awful state of the New York Yankees franchise. However, a certain underrated pitcher by the name of A.J. Burnett shook off some first inning jitters and did just enough to keep his team in front of the Detroit Tigers, sending the series back to New York for the decisive Game Five.

Several members of the Yankees lineup appeared to break out of the mini slumps that mired the early part of this series, and even Rafael Soriano pitched well in picking up Burnett in the sixth, and throwing a scoreless seven. This all led to the Yankees erupting for six runs in the eighth, quickly putting the game out of hand with a score of 10-1.

It was almost the ideal course of action ahead of the fifth and deciding game for a Yankees team that had looked a bit off in its previous two matches with the Tigers.

Anatomy Of A Lack Of Schadenfreude

Here are the locations and types of all of A.J. Burnett’s pitches tonight.

According to Pitch FX, Burnett threw:

  • 37 four seam fastballs, 25 for strikes, 2 of which were swinging, averaging a velocity of 93 mph;
  • 30 knuckle curveballs, 19 for strikes, 4 of which were swinging, averaging a velocity of 83 mph;
  • 9 sinkers, 3 for strikes, averaging a velocity of 92 mph;
  • 2 changeups, 2 for strikes, averaging a velocity of 88 mph; and
  • 1 cutter, 0 for strikes, at a velocity of 92 mph.

You can see how Burnett’s stamina began to weaken before he was pulled in the sixth:

A.J. Burnett’s line: 5 2/3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 1 IBB, 3 K, 1 HR, 1 WP. It was his first start since June 13th in which he allowed one run or less.

The Most Important Play Of The Game

With one out in the third inning, Derek Jeter gave the Yankees their first runs of the game, and the only two that they’d need, when he doubled in Jorge Posada and Russell Martin. The hit increased the Yankees probability of winning by 17.9%. After last night’s strike out in the ninth inning, it’s safe to assume that Jeter has regained the Captain Clutch moniker.

The Biggest Disappointment Of The Game

In the bottom of the first, the Tigers sent seven batters to the plate, but ended up without any runs to show for it. It’s rare to find the highest leverage moment of the game occurring in the first inning, but that’s just what happened when Don Kelly came up to bat with the bases loaded and two out. His fly out ended the inning and reduced Detroit’s probability of winning by more than 7%.

The Shamsky Award

Named after Art Shamsky, who single handedly increased the Cincinnati Reds’ chances of winning by 150.3% in a losing effort during a game in 1966, The Shamsky Award is given to the player on the losing team who contributes the most to them winning.

Victor Martinez’s solo home run to lead off the fourth inning was the only run that A.J. Burnett gave up, and really, the only offensive threat that the Tigers managed to muster after the first inning. Martinez increased Detroit’s probability of winning by 11.8% in what was ultimately a losing effort. Don’t worry, Tigers fans, Martinez’s contract will ensure that he can put up good numbers in losing efforts for three more years after this for $38 million of the team’s money.

The Aggravating Thing That The Managers Did

It makes no sense to me to see Brett Gardner batting anywhere but in the leadoff spot.

After a lead off walk to Austin Jackson, why would Jim Leyland attempt to to bunt him over to second base, when it was pretty obvious to everyone that he could just steal the base? Ramon Santiago attempted the bunt, but ended up popping out to Alex Rodriguez who moved faster than I’ve ever seen him move on defense to come up with the ball.

With base runners on first and second and none out, Derek Jeter, the leadoff hitter, the guy getting the most at bats in the game for his team, was called upon to bunt. It ended up turning into a fielder’s choice that forced the lead runner out.

The Statistic You Won’t Believe

In his third plate appearance of the game tonight, Alex Rodriguez got his first hit of the series. Rodriguez had three RBIs in the series before that moment, all on plays in which he got out.

Carefully Selected Quote Cliche Of The Game

From Baseball Prospectus, today, we’ll go with A.J. Burnett’s perspective:

It feels nice to contribute to a game where everyone contributes. You just have to focus on taking it one inning, one pitch at a time. My job is to keep it close and good things are going to happen. I just wanted to win the game. I was throwing my normal game like I pitch to any other team. I thought I was throwing a lot of strikes. I would say every time I go out there I get better and better mentally.

Stray Observations Of The Game

I couldn’t help but feel sorry for A.J. Burnett prior to tonight’s start. The entire baseball world was ready to watch him fail. Then, as the game began and Burnett struggled to find his legs, I found myself rooting for him to get out of the inning. It was a very strange phenomenon.

I’m not so sure that Curtis Granderson made a great catch to end the bottom of the first as much as he made a great recovery after a bad read on the ball in play.

Russell Martin is much faster than I thought. Running the bases in the third inning on the Derek Jeter double, he almost caught up to Jorge Posada, admittedly not a speed demon, as they rounded third base and scored the first runs of the game.

Delmon Young was the final out of the fifth inning, and he took his time in getting down the line to first base.

Curtis Granderson’s catch to end the sixth inning: ridiculous.

According to Buster Olney, after Alex Rodriguez got his first hit of the series, Miguel Cabrera turned to the Yankees dugout and jokingly asked if they wanted the ball.

Al Alburquerque? More like Al AlBALKerque. Am I right?

A.J. Burnett looks a lot like Pete Puma to me.

Comments (20)

  1. Glad to see AJ prove them all wrong. He’s never been as bad as the media has suggested.

  2. It’s true. Even respectable baseball people exaggerate his faults. We were talking about it earlier today: where does this weird hatred of him come from? It’s very strange.

    • Have you SEEN AJ Burnett?

      • I think it’s because he looks like he doesn’t care. He’s like the real version of Nuke LaLoosh. So nonchalant, yet very inconsistent. He also has this “asshole” vibe about him, which may or may not be deserved.

        Jays fans, in particular, seem to despise him even though he provided good value on his contract for 3 years here. Some forget that he actually got a standing ovation from the home crowd after his last start (2008 was a great season for him).

      • I think it’s because he looks like he doesn’t care. He’s like the real version of Nuke LaLoosh. So nonchalant, yet very inconsistent. He also has this “asshole” vibe about him, which may or may not be deserved.

        Jays fans, in particular, seem to despise him even though he provided good value on his contract for 3 years here. Some forget that he actually got a standing ovation from the home crowd after his last start (2008 was a great season for him).

    • The local disdain for Burnett comes from the fact that he signed a big money contract with the Jays whereupon he had a couple of mediocre injury plagued seasons and then one excellent season. Following that excellent season he then immediately opted out of his contract to sign for even more money with the fucking Yankees… He is an overpaid mercenary. I don’t find it strange that the fans he leaves behind tend to dislike him

      • The million dollar arm and ten cent head aspect of Burnett makes me irrationally affectionate towards him. I can’t hate him.

        I’m also convinced he should pitch on one year contracts all the time. AJ pitched better than he ever has that last year with the Jays.

        And that relief appearance was adorable.

      • Actually Burnett pitched better in his first two seasons. The only difference between his so-called “excellent” season and his mediocre ones was that he missed less time. If you don’t believe me, check the numbers.

  3. “According to Buster Olney, after Alex Rodriguez got his first hit of the series, Miguel Cabrera turned to the Yankees dugout and jokingly asked if they wanted the ball.”

    this made me laugh far more than it should have. good show, Cabrera.

  4. Al Alburquerque makes me sing this song to myself every time: http://youtu.be/rqqaIQam8l0

  5. “underrated” wouldn’t be the word I would choose for Burnett. How about “enigmatic”?

  6. “In his third plate appearance of the game tonight, Alex Rodriguez got his first hit of the series. Ditto for Nick Swisher.”

    Swisher hit a home run in game 2 at Yankee Stadium.

  7. AJ may never quite figure it out, but he has come up huge in at least two of his playoff starts now, so at least there is that. And was it me, or did the ball seem to follow A-Rod last night? Great night with the glove for him, and if he’s coming alive with the stick, could be curtains for Detroit, among others.

  8. Irritating thing the managers did? How about Leyland batting Jackson, Santiago and Young 1,2,3. All have OBAs hovering around .300. And Avila 8th!

    Burnett just has one of those faces you want to punch. It’s not his fault, he was born that way.

  9. +1000000 for the Pete Puma image.

  10. Burnett has the ultimate fart face. Always looked like he just sniffed one.

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