It wasn't always this way. Prior to coming to the Yankees, A.J. Burnett was 3-0, with a 0.40 ERA in Fenway. But since the beginning of 2009 he's 0-3, with an ERA of 12.68. His latest Fenway meltdown came yesterday afternoon when he gave up 9 runs (8 earned) on 9 hits over 4.1 innings in a 9-3 Yankees loss. As he would later admit, he didn't have a good feel of his fastball and it cost him.
“I had a good hook tonight, but I didn’t have a good heater,” Burnett said after the game. “I had a good fastball early but after that, everything was up. .... They all went where they weren’t supposed to go.”
By the end of the third, the poor command of that fastball had led to a 6-0 Red Sox lead.
The Yankees would get two back in the top of the fourth on solo homers by Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod's homer was the 586th of his career, tying him for 7th all-time with Frank Robinson.
With the Yankees now down by only four, Burnett had a chance to redeem himself a little if he could just keep the Sox off the board and give the Yanks a chance to come back. But that didn't happen. Burnett gave a run right back in the bottom half of the fourth when he gave up a two-out RBI double to Kevin Youkilis. Boston would add two more in the fifth on a two-run homer by Jeremy Hermida. Hermida was the last batter Burnett faced.
Jon Lester was much better for Boston. The two solo homers would be all the Yanks would score off the Boston lefty, who allowed just 4 hits and 2 walks, while striking out 7 in 7 innings pitched.
The Yankees scored a third run on a Robinson Cano RBI single off Manny Delcarmen in the 8th, but they never got any major rallies going.
Not that the Yankees would have won today with anyone else in left, but seriously, how bad in Marcus Thames out there? I thought it was an adventure when the ball used to be hit to Damon, but this is ridiculous. He botched one play in second that led to a run, and looked like a scared little leaguer on everything else hit near him. Yes, the wind was bad at Fenway tonight, but every other outfielder seemed to handle it just fine. Thames can hit, but he really shouldn't get too many more starts in the field. In a close game, that can be the difference between a win or a loss.
One bright spot in today's debacle was Romulo Sanchez. It was garbage time, but the right-hander allowed just a hit and a walk, while striking out 3 in 3.2 scoreless innings in relief. He didn't have the best command of the strike zone, throwing 30 of his 52 pitches for strikes, but he had a good fastball that sat between 95-98 mph, and a pretty good changeup. He also saved the Yankees from having to use any other relievers.
Yesterday sucked, but the Yankees still took two of three in Fenway, and have won four of six against the Sox this season. They now head to Detroit for a four-game series with the Tigers. Javier Vazquez will be on the mound for the Yanks in the opener, with Dontrelle Willis starting for the Tigers. First pitch is 7:05 p.m. and the game will be on YES and ESPN.