October 4, 2011 – Baseball is a funny profession.
In one night, a player can make up for an entire season that has not gone well.
For A.J. Burnett, a well-liked guy in the Yankees clubhouse, tonight is that night.
The third-year Yankee posted an 11-11 record this season with a 5.24 ERA. He pitched well and earned two victories (in two tries) against the Tigers, and he gets a third shot at them tonight with the entire season at stake.
If he wins tonight’s game, it will trump non-quality start Burnett made in the regular season.
A lot has been made in the last day about the Burnett’s performance in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series. The Yankees had dropped the first game, and a loss in Game 2 would have sent the Series to Philadelphia with the Yankees trailing 2-0. But Burnett pitched a gem, and the Yankees won the pivotal game.
Burnett watched a video of that game today, and while you never know what another person’s mindset is, I believe the fact that Burnett took the initiative and the time to watch that game, underscores a point that Joe Girardi has stated since spring training.
A.J. Burnett cares deeply about helping a team that has helped him through tough times on the mound.
I was also encouraged by Burnett’s outward confidence in yesterday’s press conference. He sounded like a guy who believes he will succeed, and that is the mark of a great competitor. Regardless of what happened in the past, Burnett is supremely confident in his ability to win.
“You can’t count me out,” Burnett said. “I’m going to bring everything I’ve got and just let loose out there.”
–Alfred Santasiere III