Damage incurred vs. A.J. too much for Yanks
Phillies build insurmountable lead in right-hander's shaky start
NEW YORK -- That combination of rage, frustration and embarrassment rushed through A.J. Burnett's bloodstream as he stared at the uncovered first base, spotting Mark Teixeira sprawled on the grass with no one to throw to.
- 134 wins
- 118 wins
That just tops everything off, Burnett thought, knowing that his night was over in the fourth inning. But as the right-hander prepared to surrender the ball on Wednesday in what would finish as a 6-3 Yankees loss to the Phillies, he was greeted with encouragement from manager Joe Girardi.
"He grabbed me and said, 'Hey, we're going to fix this. Keep your head up,'" Burnett said. "That's what I plan on doing. I don't feel sorry for myself. I don't make excuses. It's time to go to work and start doing what I'm supposed to be doing."
A lack of fastball command was identified as the culprit as Burnett was tagged for his third straight loss, walking off the field to a chorus of boos from the Yankee Stadium crowd of 47,414 on a muggy summer evening.
On a night that ageless lefty Jamie Moyer limited the Yankees to a pair of solo homers from Robinson Cano and Jorge Posada, the Phillies hit Burnett hard, rocking him for six runs on six hits in 3 1/3 innings.
Philadelphia's barrage included a four-run second inning, highlighted by Shane Victorino's three-run triple up the gap in right-center field.
Ryan Howard and Jayson Werth also belted back-to-back home runs off Burnett, who has allowed 16 earned runs (9.00 ERA) over his last three starts against the Blue Jays, Orioles and now the Phillies.
The bad ones, the Yankees are learning, seem to come in bunches for Burnett.
"He pitched really well for us last year," Girardi said. "He had some big wins for us, and he pitched well at the beginning of the year. He's seemed to run into trouble the last couple of starts with command of his fastball. It's something that we need to correct."
Everyone in the ballpark knew Burnett had erred in the fourth, standing idly by when Chase Utley's grounder to the right side was smothered by Teixeira.
It was the second time in as many nights that a Yankees starter did not cover first base against Philadelphia, but unlike CC Sabathia's gaffe in the fourth inning Tuesday, this one couldn't be overlooked in victory.
"We do it day in and day out in the spring, and I've been doing it for 10 years," Burnett said. "I guess I just had a lapse. It's uncalled for and there's no excuses for it."
That play didn't especially hurt the Yankees, because Boone Logan came on to record two outs and begin a string of 2 2/3 hitless innings, but the damage had already been done.
Burnett allowed a second-inning RBI single to Greg Dobbs and missed a big opportunity when Wilson Valdez grounded back to the mound for an infield single Burnett never saw.
Victorino followed with a six-pitch at-bat, the one Burnett would have liked back, before ripping the bases-clearing three-bagger to snap a personal 0-for-16 skid.
"We couldn't get on the same page," catcher Jorge Posada said. "I wanted him to establish his four-seamer and it seemed like he was falling behind on some of the hitters. He gets out of the inning with a ground ball to him, and it didn't happen. Victorino's at-bat is the one you want back."
Logan and Chad Gaudin (three scoreless innings) saved the bullpen, but the bats couldn't figure the 47-year-old Moyer, who barely cracks 80 mph but did not have to work out of the stretch until the seventh inning, when Alex Rodriguez walked.
"He's been doing it for a long time -- a really long time," said Derek Jeter, who was 0-for-4. "He never throws the ball over the plate. He hits his spots, and he's had a lot of success doing that throughout the years. To be quite honest with you, he could probably pitch another 10 years like that."
Cano put New York on the board in the second with his 14th home run and his Major League-leading eighth off a left-hander, and Posada connected for a solo shot to left field off Moyer in the fifth, his ninth.
Kevin Russo's eighth-inning infield single was the only other hit against Moyer, who became the oldest pitcher ever to beat the Yankees, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
"I don't know about other people, but I know I'm amazed at what he can do," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "The fact that he does it at his age really shows you his love of the game."
Burnett is an opposite of Moyer in many regards -- righty vs. lefty, power vs. finesse, and on this night, polar opposites in command. But Burnett was well aware of Moyer's previous start, when the Red Sox battered him for nine runs in an inning, and wondered if he could use this as a lesson.
"It opens your eyes in all aspects," Burnett said. "You look at his last game and what happened, and now you look at this game. We've got to have short memories and obviously he did that. I plan on doing the same."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.