The afternoon couldn't be considered a total loss, not with A.J. Burnett, who had lost five straight, shutting out the Blue Jays over 6 2/3 innings.
"Totally different mindset," Burnett said. "I was pretty focused today out there. And going one pitch at a time and really making it a point not to let anything bother me."
Burnett, as has been discussed to death, was 0-5 in Dave Eiland's absence and while he hasn't said anything bad about Mike Harkey, it's clear the righty is far more comfortable with his pitching coach than without him [people focusing solely on that, btw, forget Burnett's awful mid-season slump last year when Eiland was there, along with his bad start to 2009].
“Everybody has certain ways to relate to people; he makes Arkansas talk, he likes to call it,” said Burnett, an Arkansas native. “So it’s good to hear his voice, good to have him back.”
*** Of course, the overriding story of the day was the bullpen not getting it done -- first Joba Chamberlain, who couldn't get the ball to Mariano Rivera, and then David Robertson and Chan Ho Park teaming up to allow five runs in the 11th.
“A.J. threw the ball really well, he gave us a good chance to win,” Robertson said. “We kind of let him down today.”
It was a tale of two approaches afterward as Robertson said "I stunk" and Park, whose ERA climbed to an eerie 6.66 [insert punch line here], strangely said, "I don't feel like I'm struggling."
Joe Girardi said of the bullpen -- exclusing Rivera, of course -- "We need to be better."
That goes for the plate, too. The Yankees reached base in each of the first seven innings, stranding a runner in scoring position in the first, third, fourth and sixth. Their final 13 batters were retired in order.
“We just haven’t been getting the hits when we’ve needed them,” said Nick Swisher, who had one of the Yankees’ five hits. “But you can’t get frustrated with it. That’s when it starts to snowball.”
One of their best scoring chances came in the sixth when Jorge Posada singled and Curtis Granderson walked, giving the Yankees runners at first and second with none out. Girardi said he considered having Francisco Cervelli, who would ground into a double play, bunt, but he decided against it. [Lost in looking at things through the always 20/20 vision of hindsight was that Cervelli to that point was 2-for-2 against Brett Cecil].
“That’s a legitimate question,” Girardi said. “You have a slow runner at second, you have a lefty on the mound falling off toward third base. It’s gotta be a perfect bunt and Cervy’s got two hits off this guy. Lefties are hitting .180 off him and there’s a lefthander [Brett Gardner] behind him. Wind’s blowing in, a sac fly’s going to be difficult."
And with that, I'm off this weekend and will next check in from the West Coast. Still, there'll be plenty here the next two days, starting tomorrow as it will be Andy Pettitte (9-2, 2.72) taking on Ricky Romero (6-4, 2.83).