Yes, the Yankees were mostly held down by a pitcher who came into tonight 2-6 but the story, obviously, was yet another bad start by A.J. Burnett.
“I don’t feel like myself,” Burnett. “I’m not having fun right now. I mean, who would during a stretch like this? But the game’s supposed to be fun and when you come out and take the air out of your team right away for a handful of starts, it gets quite frustrating. I’m going to keep plugging away.”
Burnett said he knows what his problems are, but he's said that after each of his other poor starts on this streak. He's clearly at wits end.
"We'll go over it, we'll look at the video; find out why I don't feel like myself," Burnett said. "Why with my delivery...I mean, for 10 years I felt great out of the windup and when I got out of the stretch, that's when they'd get me. And now I feel like it's vice versa. I'm not comfortable out of the windup at all."
The start of this losing streak started June 4 in Toronto, coincidentally, or maybe not, the same day pitching coach Dave Eiland took his leave of absence and Mike Harkey, the bullpen coach, took over for Eiland.
Joe Girardi jumped to Harkey's defense, even though no one was really attacking.
“If you’re going to place the blame on him, that’s not right,” Girardi said. “Before today the ERA was actually lower as a staff [under Harkey]. There’s consistency here. Yes, we miss Dave but I don’t know…A.J. knows what he needs to correct. A.J. knows what he needs to do to make pitches. He has to do it.”
But Girardi also said, “I don’t discount” that Eiland’s absence has had an impact, especially on Burnett.
“Dave has an impact on all the pitchers,” Girardi said. “Could it? Yes, but I can’t tell you that’s exactly what it is."
It is true that Burnett is the only pitcher who has gone completely south while Eiland has been gone -- it's important to recognize guys like Javier Vazquez has been just fine -- but those questions aren't going to stop.
Burnett wouldn’t use it as an excuse but it’s also clear he misses Eiland, whom he said he hasn’t spoken to since he’s been away.
“Not having him here is a big loss for all of us,” Burnett said. “I’m not going to point fingers or make excuses at all. I’m out there throwing pitches, whether Dave’s in the dugout or not. He’s corrected me enough to where I should have in memory what Dave says. I’m a man and a professional athlete who has a big contract whose here for a reason and there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be able to [correct this].”
And with that, back tomorrow as Andy Pettitte (8-2, 2.47) takes on Dan Haren (7-5, 4.71).