I have to be honest, heading into Game Five I didn’t give much thought to the A.J. Burnett-Chad Gaudin debate, so I can’t second-guess Joe Girardi’s decision too much. But when I was listening to Mike Francesa’s show on WFAN and he said he thought it was a mistake to pitch Burnett prior to the game it began to dawn on me that Girardi was taking a big chance. Look at the red flags:
a) Burnett would be pitching on three-day’s rest.
b) Burnett would be pitching on the road, where he’s not as effective.
c) Because Burnett and Posada refuse to kiss and make up, Molina would be doing the catching. In the NL park, the lineup is already weakened without a DH, now the light-hitting Molina’s in the mix and Gardner (in for the injured Melky) can’t hit; throw in the ice-cold Cano and Swisher and the Yankees’ lineup is essentially four players deep.
As it turned out, Francesa and the other first-guessers were right; the game was a disaster. I wasn’t too upset the Yankees lost; I was expecting it. The Phillies are great at home, it would be a tall order to beat them there three games in a row; especially with Lee pitching Game Five against a watered-down lineup.
What did upset me was the position Girardi put the Yanks in the rest of the series. If he had put Gaudin in he probably wouldn’t have been any worse than Burnett was. Then he’d have Burnett on full rest at home in Game Six and if there was a Game Seven, he’d have the choice between Pettitte on full rest or Sabathia on three-day’s rest. That’s not a bad situation. Instead, we get Andy on short rest tonight and if needed, Sabathia on short rest tomorrow. That is not an ideal situation. I hope Andy can pull a rabbit out of his hat tonight; I want no part of a Game Seven.
As for the rest of the Game Five, there’s not much else to say. Burnett was awful, which wasn’t a surprise. It wouldn’t have been a surprise if he pitched seven scoreless innings either. You just never know what you’re going to get from the guy. I get a little sad when I remember the Yanks have to deal with the rollercoaster that is Burnett for four more seasons.
I will give credit to the Yankees for making a game out of it though in the late innings. When they got back to the top of the order with first and third and no one out, I honestly thought they were going to at least tie the game. Unfortunately, Jeter hit into that DP and that was all she wrote. It’s too bad Coke gave up those tack-on homers.
So, Game Five wasn’t to be. I’m hoping the Yanks can close it out tonight, but I’m a little uneasy about it. I think it’ll be up to the offense to bring this one home. Pettitte on short rest worries me, but I feel the Yanks’ attack can get to Pedro. (At least I’m hoping they can).
Here’s to Number 27!
Joe Dyton is a marketing copywriter in Washington, DC. He is a former assistant editor for The Dealmakers real estate magazine in Hamilton, NJ and a former sports writer and copy editor for The Trentonian in Trenton, NJ. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http://twitter.com/dyton99.