YANKS CAN DO THISBy Ian Begley
Will A.J. Burnett come up big in Game 4? I think you already know the answer to that question.
Burnett's done so exactly once in three years in pinstripes (see 2009 World Series, Game 2).
And, outside of one strong start in September, he's given little indication that it will happen again Tuesday night. So the only way this series gets back to the Bronx is if the Yankees hit their way home.
Given the way the middle of the lineup has performed in this series, that doesn't seem promising. But it's much more plausible than Burnett pitching a gem.
"The weight of the world isn't on his shoulders," Mark Teixeira said Monday. "It's on ours."
He's right. The season doesn't rest on the $82.5 million right arm of Burnett. It really comes down to Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Alex Rodriguez and company against West Orange, N.J., native Rick Porcello.
And the numbers say the Yankees have a puncher's chance.
Sure, they're hitting just .224 in the series. But they scored nine runs in Game 1 and put up a four-spot on everyone's AL Cy Young Award winner, Justin Verlander.
They also have decent numbers against Porcello, who has a 5.56 career ERA in four starts against the Yanks.
The young right-hander has just eight strikeouts and 11 walks in 22 2/3 innings against them. Overall, the Yankees are hitting .270 off him.
Robinson Cano -- he of the six Game 1 RBIs - is 5-for-11 with an RBI against Porcello. Jorge Posada is 3-for-9 with two walks, and Nick Swisher has three hits and two walks in 10 at-bats.
If the Yankees can scratch across a few early runs, Joe Girardi will go to his bullpen early, taking Burnett out of the equation.
So don't look to A.J. to save the Yankees' season Tuesday night. That's on the rest of the $200 million roster.
THE END IS HEREBy Mike Mazzeo
With their fate squarely in Allan James Burnett's hands Tuesday night, the New York Yankees' season isn't just on the brink.
Burnett has become the biggest joke in professional sports. Despite having $82.5 million of talent in his right arm, the enigmatic Burnett continues to disappoint time and time again, to the point where it's become almost comical. Not even the most optimistic of Yankees fans can expect him to come through against the Detroit Tigers in a game New York has to win to stay alive.
A loss feels inevitable, just as it did a year ago with Burnett on the hill in the ALCS. The only question is, who on the Tigers will play Bengie Molina and put the Yankees out of their misery?
* Burnett had a 5.15 ERA (11.91 in August, 6.85 in the second half) and gave up a career-high 31 home runs, but overall his 2011 season (11-11) was better than his 2010 campaign (10-15, 5.26).
* In four career starts at Comerica Park, the 34-year-old has pitched to a 7.17 ERA, allowing 17 earned runs and 21 hits in 21 1/3 innings.
* In his previous two postseason starts, Burnett has allowed 11 earned runs in eight innings (12.38), and opponents are hitting .313 against him.
The worst part about all this is that Burnett is capable of hurling an absolute gem, like he did in Game 2 of the 2009 World Series (7 IP, 1 ER, 9 K). But given how poorly he's pitched since then, no one expects that to happen -- except of course Burnett, who continues to be delusional (albeit in the third person this time). "You can't count me out. I'm going to bring everything I've got and just let A.J. loose out there," Burnett said Monday.
Let A.J. loose? Please.
Granted, the Yankees would love to -- but they're still on the hook for two more years.
The Yankees are going to see their season abruptly end with Burnett, who wasn't even supposed to pitch in this series, on the mound -- again.
Sad. Actually, pathetic.