Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Burnett Just Another Pavano?

What the heck was that?

With the Yankees needing a win in the worst way against the Red Sox, A.J. Burnett sure chose the worst time to have his worst performance as a Yankee.

And it makes me wonder if we have another Carl Pavano on our hands. I know, it's a scary thought, especially since their Yankees careers are eerily similar to this point.

Burnett failed to get out of the third inning Tuesday, allowing five runs, three earned, on five hits and five walks, and the Yankees lost 7-0 to the Red Sox, losing for the sixth straight time to their archrivals and falling into a first-place tie in the AL East.

It was the first time the Yankees have been shut out this season, becoming the last team in the majors to be shut out this season.

Burnett was awful. There is no other way to put it. He had no control of any pitch and threw only 40 of 84 pitches for strikes in 2-2/3 innings. He fell behind 12 of the 18 batters he faced and was at 61 pitches after the second. It was a miracle the Sox managed not to score against him the first.

“It’s embarrassing, it’s very disappointing,” Burnett said. “But obviously I’m not going to kill myself. I’m not going to go and try to figure out what went wrong or this and that. I’m going to get back out there. The confidence is there.”
I just hope what's wrong is purely mechanical and has nothing to do with the fact that Burnett is not pitching for a contract. Most fans were skeptical when the Yankees signed Burnett, who was coming off a career year, but had never shown the consistency you'd like when you sign someone to a large contract.

The one positive to the signing was that Burnett had always performed well against the AL East, and specifically against the Red Sox. Burnett was 5-0 against Boston in his career entering the season. Red Sox hitters couldn't figure him out.

And then he put on the Pinstripes and in two starts at Fenway this season, the numbers are ugly: 7-2/3 IP, 13 hits and 11 ER for a 12.91 ERA.

We knew Burnett was in trouble from the start Tuesday, but hoped he would settled down and pitch decently because his fastball had life, hitting 96 mph. But all hopes for that evaporated in the second inning.

David Ortiz, who entered the game hitting .197, homered, sending a belt-high, 95 mph fastball that hung over the middle off the plate over the wall in center to give the Sox a 2-0 lead. The pitch was so fat, it actually made Big Papi look like that minuscule horse jockey the Sox have playing second base. It was so fat, even Dave could have hooked in around the Pesky Pole.

And it just got worse from there. After Jason Varitek struck out, Mark Kotsay walked and Nick Green reach on an error by Alex Rodriguez, who couldn't get the ball out of his glove. That makes seven straight games with an error for the Yankees.

The horse jockey, Dustin Pedroia, followed by grounding out to third and Burnett had a chance to limit the damage and escape the inning. But J.D. Drew hit a two-run double and the Sox had an insurmountable 4-0 lead.

Josh Beckett was dominant, limiting the Yanks to a Robinson Cano infield single while striking out eight in six innings.

Burnett's performance gave the Yankee no shot to win this one. He needed to keep his team in the game and failed miserably.

The third inning only got worse. Mike Lowell led off with a walk, but was caught stealing after Big Papi flied to left. Burnett was set for an easy inning, but instead he walked Varitek, allowed a single to Kotsay and then surrendered an RBI double to Green.

Burnett's night was done ... and so was mine.

I shut the game off at that point. Watching "Finding Nemo" with my son, who was allowed to stay up extra late on his third birthday, was a much better way to spend the evening.

And really, did I need to stick around to watch Jose Veras serve up a homer to Green? Like we couldn't see that coming!

Besides, I have seen this story before.

Burnett entered this game at 4-2 with a 4.69 ERA in 11 starts and was on a little roll. He had won his last two starts, both against Texas, pitching six scoreless innings with seven strikeouts in one game and allowing three runs with eight strikeouts in seven innings the other game.

Once upon a time, Pavano's Yankees career started very similarly.

Pavano signed a big contract with the Yankees after a career year with the Marlins in '04 and a strong performance in the playoffs and World Series in '03.

He actually started his Yankees career decently in '05, going 4-2 with a 3.69 ERA through 10 starts. Heading into that 11th start, he was on a roll, pitching a five-hit shutout against the Mariners and allowing three runs, one earned, in seven innings in a victory over the Mets.

Start 11 was against the Red Sox ... and, like Burnett's start Tuesday, it was ugly.

Pavano allowed five runs on 11 hits in 3-2/3 innings in a 17-1 loss. After that outing Pavano got progressively worse, eventually landing on the disabled list, where he would spend most of the next four years, earning the nickname "American Idle."

Burnett is at a turning point in his Yankees career ... and he knows it.

“Terrible,” he said of his first 12 starts. “Glimpses of greatness but I’m not very
consistent right now. I’m not a negative guy, so I’m not going to beat myself up
over it. But when I do get on that run, it’s going to be impressive. I promise
you that.”

He had better turn it around and do it fast. His honeymoon period with the fans is officially over and another bad start Sunday at home against the Port St. Lucie Mets will lead to a serenade of boos.

Runners In Scoring Position
140-for-526 (.266)
Since A-Rod's Return May 8
74-for-258 (.287)

Up Next
Wednesday at Boston, 7:10 p.m., YES, NESN, ESPN
Chien-Ming Wang (0-3, 14.46) vs. Tim Wakefield (7-3, 4.50)

Forget the pitching matchup. I want to see the Yankees come out with some anger and put a hurting on some Sox pitching over the next two games and take the series.


Max said...

I can't bear the thought of Burnett being another-Pavano. I can hardly speak that name. However, AJ has always had problems w/ control but holy crap. I didn't think AJ would help Big Papi get through his funk...Dave was demanding he go to the minors just yesterday. No we have Wang back on the starting rotation. I am travelling today and therefore won't be watching, something tells me that will be a good thing. This is getting embarrassing.

Dave said...

Ha ha ha ha ha! How much did you pay for this guy? The guy who always performs well in his contract year and then shi*s the bed the other years?

In conclusion: ha ha ha ha.

Aviv said...

Dave, two words: Julio Lugo. Sox have had their share of bad signings. Thanks you and good night.

Dave said...

You know, we did win a title with the Errormatic 5000. What have you guys done with Brown, Johnson, Weaver, Wright, Pavano,, my fingers are getting tired from typing about all your busts.

Aviv said...

Please, do I have to go through all the Sox's busts? I mean I can just start with the five worst trades you posted yesterday and then mine that rich 86-year drought you guys had. Julio Lugo is just the start.

Besides, I never said Burnett was a bust yet, just that his early Yankees career has mimicked Pavano's. He's had just 12 starts. Still a ton of time to turn that around.