A.J.’s finest hour brings series back to New York

No, it wasn’t his most dominant game, or his best final line. In fact, his final line wasn’t really that impressive in raw terms, thanks in large part that included 3 walks (2.5 of them unintentional), and then a home run by Victor Martinez in the 4th. And even though that solo home run would be the only blemish on Burnett’s line this night, he needed a tremendous, acrobatic catch by Curtis Granderson to get him out of that first inning.

But all of that considered, no one could have asked for anything more out of A.J. tonight. Not after the way he’s pitched for two years now. Not with everything that’s been written about him by the local media, as recently as Tuesday morning. Not with the pressure of an elimination game on his shoulders. With all of that swirling around him, and despite making it more interesting than we would all like at some points in the game, A.J. took the mound and made the pitches he needed to make when he needed to make them. There isn’t anyone among us who wouldn’t have gladly taken 5.2 innings of one run ball from Burnett tonight, or who wouldn’t have been very bullish on the Yankees’ odds in this game with that effort from the starter.

Now the series heads back to Yankee Stadium for a deciding fifth game. Game 1 starters Ivan Nova and Doug Fister will be back on the bump for the second time in the series, looking to get their respective teams to the ALCS to face the defending A.L. champions. We’ve got two whole days to break down and dissect that contest in every way possible prior to first pitch, and you can be sure we’ll be doing just that here at IIATMS.But for now, I’m just happy for A.J. The struggles of the past two seasons notwithstanding, by all accounts Burnett has been nothing but a tremendously hard worker and a fabulous teammate, showing up every day to do his job and to make himself a better pitcher. It hasn’t always worked out, and when it has it hasn’t necessarily lasted, but truth be told, I just appreciate the way A.J. conducts himself. I appreciate that he takes the ball every turn, never makes excuses, and never seems ready to give up.

Tonight, A.J. Burnett is the hero, the pitcher who saved the season for at least another 48 hours. Even accounting for Game 2 of the 2009 World Series, I think this has to be the high point of his tenure with the Yankees, if only because, for as big of a game as it was, Game 2 wasn’t actually an elimination game. And I, for one, couldn’t be happier for A.J., no matter how Game 5 plays out.

So now the series returns to the Bronx, where both teams will be fighting a win or go home battle with their number two starter on the mound and everyone, including their respective aces, available out of the bullpens. At Yankee Stadium. This is what October baseball is all about.

All that’s missing is some mystique and aura.

About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

10 thoughts on “A.J.’s finest hour brings series back to New York

  1. I feel like a took too big a puff off Cashman's objective pipe tonight!
    All joking aside the Yankees really backed AJ with everything they had tonight. This was a total team effort, from the great defense to the timely hitting and pitching, THIS was Yankee baseball. Lets do it again on Thursday!

  2. Great post, couldn't have summed up my feelings any better. A.J. has earned a ton of respect tonight.

  3. Totally agree with the post. And couldn't be happier to see AJ do well. Now on to game 5 …

  4. After 2 years of vacillation, frustration, angst, and downright disgust, AJ stepped up and pitched a great game tonight. Grandy certainly helped with two of the best catches of the year, and the offense finally exploded late. However, when it was still close, AJ kept his composure, didn't get rattled, and delivered exactly what the Yanks needed–a chance to win. Let's go Nova and Yankees on Thursday!

  5. I hope Larry Rothschild gets a WS share. (if and when it comes to that)

    AJ looked like bad AJ the first inning. TBS cams showed Larry shoving AJ into the clubhouse. We all saw who came to the mound just a few minutes later.

    @@any True Blood fans here? I'm figuring it must have been something like last season, when the brujo Jesus kept reaching inside Rafael and pulling out the evil spirit, exorcising it. I WANT the footage from the visiting team clubhouse, between first and second inning.

    +1 to Larry AND AJ.

  6. Not just AJ, but for any starter I'd take 5.2 and 1 run in the postseason, even if it's an ugly 5.2/1. Yeah, you might get 8IP/2R or 7IP/0R, and 5.2 doesn't qualify as a "quality start", but I think you are more likely than not to win your series if you got that out of your starter every time out.