If nothing else, A.J. Burnett is still feeling the support from his teammates. And right now in the clubhouse is probably one of the few places the beleaguered pitcher is getting that.
“The guys in here…what they’ve meant to me during this stretch has been amazing,” said Burnett, mentioning Andy Pettitte and Francisco Cervelli in particular who spoke with him after today’s game. “It’s all support. They don’t give up on me and I don’t either."
"We're going to keep supporting him, he's going to be fine," Cervelli said. "Everyone knows how great he is."
Burnett said Friday it's tough being a starting pitcher in a slump because, unlike an every day player who is struggling, a pitcher has to wait.
"I can’t wait to go back out in five days," he said.
But based on any progress he saw today? There didn't seem to be much over his last start -- Monday in Phoenix when he allowed three first-inning home runs and seven runs in four innings -- but Burnett and Joe Girardi said there was some.
"I had unbelievable stuff today," Burnett said, before qualifying that. "I had velocity, I had movement. I had a good hook. A couple broken bats early but in that third inning it just…I’m overdoing it out there, I’m trying to get these guys off the field for a chance. Overtrying. I think that’s what it comes down to right now. I need to relax a little bit and have some fun out there."
There certainly hasn't been much fun during this five-game losing streak [in the same stretch CC Sabathia has gone 5-0] as in Burnett's last five starts he's allowed 29 runs (all earned), 35 hits, 17 walks and three hit batsmen in 23 innings.
Girardi said skipping Burnett, as he did with Javier Vazquez earlier this season, isn't something he's currently planning.
"We thought it would be good for Javy to skip a start,” Girardi said. “I don’t see a lack of velocity, I don’t see a lack of bite in his [Burnett’s] breaking ball. It’s just execution pitch after pitch and that’s something that we need to work on. We’re 10 minutes after the game but my thought is not to skip him.”
Burnett is 6-7 with a 5.25 ERA after starting the season 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA.
“I think it’s more frustrating because of the start I had,” said Burnett, who theorized he’s “overdoing it” on the mound. “That’s the way I should be pitching, that’s the way I will pitch. It’s just a matter, as tough as it is, not getting too down and staying positive. Keep plugging away and understanding and realizing I’m going to come out of this.”