The Yankees have been winning so much of late — 17 of their last 23 even after yesterday’s 7-2 loss to the Rangers — that it was unusual to hear them fall back on typical losers’ laments.
- “He made one mistake the whole day.” — Joe Girardi on A.J. Burnett.
-“One mistake hurt me.” — Burnett
- “One pitch.” — Derek Jeter
- “We let one get away today.” — Alex Rodriguez
Actually, A-Rod may have had the most accurate take on things.
Yes, one pitch — the 95-mph fastball Ian Kinsler deposited in the leftfield seats for a three-run home run — hurt Burnett.
But that one pitch didn’t cost the Yankees the game.
The Yankees lost because Burnett, whose stuff was so dominating that he struck out a season-high 12 in only six innings and allowed only two hits, walked back-to-back hitters with two outs in the fourth before Kinsler’s blast.
They lost because they left 12 men on base, eight in the first four innings, and couldn’t break through despite accepting seven walks from Rangers starter Dustin Nippert, who was knocked out with two outs in the fourth.
They lost because Phil Coke replaced Burnett to begin the seventh with the Yankees down 3-2 and — in a three-batter, four-pitch span — allowed more hits than Burnett did and the same number of runs. The Rangers went up 6-2 on Chris Davis’ three-run home run to right.
The Yankees also lamented a botched sacrifice bunt before Davis’ home run (Coke fielded the ball in front of Rodriguez and threw high to first, allowing Taylor Teagarden to reach) and a 2-and-2 pitch to Josh Hamilton in the fourth that Girardi thought was strike three.
Hamilton then walked on a 3-and-2 pitch. He became the Rangers’ first baserunner after Burnett (10-8) was perfect for the first 32/3 innings with seven strikeouts.
“He was dealing,” Jeter said.
“It doesn’t matter how my stuff was because we didn’t come out on top,” Burnett said.
It was a frustrating early pattern for the Yankees, who scored in the first and fourth innings on a pair of RBI singles by Mark Teixeira but then were held to two singles in 51/3 innings by three Texas relievers.
After Hamilton walked, Burnett got ahead of Nelson Cruz 1-and-2 but walked him, too. Kinsler then jumped on Burnett’s first-pitch fastball down the middle. As his home run traveled into the seats, Burnett turned and stared blankly into leftfield, a pose he held while Kinsler rounded the bases.
“I was just trying to go away and left it over the plate and he did what he was supposed to do with it,’’ a terse Burnett said.
“I thought A.J. was great,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just really disappointing to see him lose a game like this because he may have had Hamilton struck out on the 2-and-2 pitch. It’s a game of inches.”
Game of inches? Has it really come to that? Perhaps the Yankees were just not used to losing, and dropping a home series has been as rare in the Bronx as a home game without a Yankees home run (which occurred for only the fifth time in 62 dates).
The last time the Yankees lost a home series was on June 16-18 to the Nationals, when they also lost two of three.
“We haven’t done that in a long time,” Girardi said. “But we still have a lot of series and we’ll turn it around tomorrow.”
Burnett is 0-4 with a 6.03 ERA in his last six starts — and that includes 72/3 shutout innings against the Red Sox Aug. 7. Jose Molina started behind the plate as Jorge Posada got a day off that was scheduled even before Posada was hit with a foul tip Wednesday night.
Burnett and Posada have had some communication issues, but Burnett and Girardi have sought to downplay them. Burnett did say he felt he concentrated better yesterday.