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After another walkoff win, Yankees mull roster decisions

New York Yankees' Juan Miranda (72) drives in

New York Yankees' Juan Miranda (72) drives in the game winning run with a walk off single in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals. (September 29, 2009) Credit: John Dunn/John Dunn

Much time will be spent and many brain cells will be used in the coming days to try and figure out what the Yankees are going to do with their final roster spots for the American League Division Series against Detroit or Minnesota.

Freddy Guzman or Ramiro Peña? Brian Bruney or David Robertson? Those are just some of the candidates under discussion.

Actually, probably too much time will be spent and too many brain cells will needlessly die debating these issues.

Of far more importance to the Yankees is their only remaining large decision before the playoffs begin next Wednesday or Thursday: Will A.J. Burnett or Andy Pettitte start Game 2 of the ALDS?

Burnett pitched against the Royals last night at Yankee Stadium and had his third straight solid outing in the Yankees' 4-3 win. He went 61/3 innings and was charged with two runs (one earned).

Burnett allowed three hits, walked three and struck out eight. He left to a standing ovation with a runner on first in a 1-1 game and watched Phil Coke allow a hit and commit an error that led to the go-ahead runs.

Burnett was spared a loss, however, when the Yankees tied the game in the bottom of the ninth on Robinson Cano's sacrifice fly off Kyle Farnsworth. The Yankees took their 15th walk-off win of the season when Juan Miranda singled off Farnsworth's leg to score Eric Hinske.

Burnett delivered the now-traditional pie in the face to Miranda.

Burnett (12-9, 4.10 ERA) never has pitched in the postseason; Pettitte (14-7, 4.11) has started 35 times in baseball's most important games.

But Pettitte is coming off a fatigued shoulder from earlier this month. And the Game 2 starter also will be the Game 5 starter if the Yankees use only three, as they plan to. If Pettitte is healthy, the Yankees could decide he is more trustworthy.

When asked about whether he should start Game 2 or 3, Burnett said, "It doesn't matter. We're all going to get the ball. It doesn't matter who I follow. We're such a tight group, we're all going to try to pick each other up.''

Manager Joe Girardi and the Yankees' brain trust met for an hour Tuesday afternoon to discuss their postseason plans, but no decisions were reached.

"There are still questions for us to be answered," Girardi said. "Who are we playing? It's possible we won't know that until Sunday at 4 o'clock.''

It seemed as if Girardi was telegraphing his intentions when he announced the rotation for this weekend's series at Tampa Bay: CC Sabathia, Pettitte, Burnett. Is that the way it's going to be in Round 1?

Not necessarily. Girardi had no choice but to line up his starters that way this weekend. Burnett missed his regular turn Monday to be with his father, Bill, who had successful triple-bypass heart surgery in Little Rock, Ark.

So Burnett's final regular-season tuneup has to be Sunday on regular rest.

So don't expect a decision right away. When it comes, Girardi will have to pick between Ol' Reliable (Pettitte) or Mr. Big Stuff (Burnett).

"There are probably three or four things that go into it,'' Girardi said. "Opponent? How a guy's pitching. Whether he pitches better at home or away. Is it more of a righthanded-hitting lineup or a lefthanded-hitting lineup? There are some things that just need to be answered, and we don't have all those answers yet."

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