Found October 05, 2011 on
Fox Sports Detroit:
DETROIT It couldn't have been much more than hope and a prayer that A.J. Burnett would be the pitcher to keep the Yankees alive for a deciding fifth game in their playoff series against the Tigers.
Whatever inspiration manager Joe Girardi had in sticking with Burnett in a game the Yankees had to win to extend their run in the postseason, his faith was rewarded.
Burnett held up his end with a solid performance before departing with two out in the bottom of the sixth of what became a runaway 10-1 victory over the Tigers in the American League Divisional Series at Comerica Park on Tuesday night.
The two teams meet Thursday night in Game 5 at Yankee Stadium.
The bottom fell out on the Tigers' hopes of ending the series at home and giving their loyal fans a chance to celebrate. The Yankees pulled away from a 4-1 lead with six runs in the eighth.
It should not be overlooked how well Burnett pitched when the game was still in doubt, or what Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson did to give him run support and hold the Tigers at bay.
They did what Yankees veterans are known for doing in the postseason. They made plays that win games and kept the Yankees' season from ending in Detroit.
"We've got an opportunity," Girardi said after the game. "We fought all year long to have home-field advantage throughout the playoffs."
Tigers manager Jim Leyland would concede nothing. He added a touch of humor about going back to New York for Game 5.
"It doesn't surprise me that this game is going five games," he said. "Hopefully, that suit I bought three or four days ago will be fixed now.
"I can pick it up when I go back."
Unlike Tuesday night, when Burnett was considered a liability by most people except Girard in being matched against Tigers starter Rick Porcello, Thursday night's pitching matchup could favor the Yankees.
Ivan Nova will start for the Yankees against the Tigers' Doug Fister. It's a repeat of Game 1, when Nova and Fister started when the game was resumed a day after rain forced suspension.
Nova gave up four hits and two runs in six and a third innings. Fister struggled, allowing seven hits and six runs in four and two thirds innings of a 9-3 loss.
Burnett was effective Tuesday night, allowing four hits and one run, but not without a shaky first inning.
He walked the bases loaded with two out, but Granderson bailed him out with an outstanding catch in centerfield of a hard liner by Don Kelly.
Granderson seemed to hesitate for an instant before tracking the ball hit over his head. With a small jump and a long stretch, Granderson got the ball in his glove.
Without the catch, the Yankees would have been in a 3-0 hole at least. Tigers manager Jim Leyland said he thought it might have gone for an inside the park home run.
"I thought it was going to be an out," Girardi said. "Then it just kept carrying and carrying. Curtis made two great grabs."
Leyland saw Granderson's first catch as the turning point.
"I think the key out in the game happened in the very first inning," Leyland said.
Burnett was a spectator for Granderson's second catch. Girardi took him out with two out and a runner on first in the bottom of the sixth.
Granderson dove to catch Jhonny Peralta's liner in left center.
That made four runs that Granderson saved for Burnett and the Yankees.
"We don't win tonight without defense," Burnett said.
Granderson and Jeter contributed at the plate, too.
It was Jeter's turn first to give Burnett a cushion.
Porcello held the Yankees without a base runner until the third. With one out, Jeter smashed a liner to center that was out Austin Jackson's reach by a few inches. Those inches were gold the game's first runs for a 2-0 lead the Yankees would never give back.
The Tigers had made it 2-1 in a homer by Victor Martinez in the fourth, but the Yankees took command in the fifth on a run-scoring double by Granderson and a sacrifice fly by Alex Rodriguez.
But Burnett's performance was the key for the Yankees. He gave the offense time to get rolling.
He almost didn't make it out of the first inning, though. Girardi had Cory Wade warming up when Burnett was having control trouble.
"I think you have to be prepared when you're in a must-win situation," Girardi said.
Girardi has stuck by Burnett, whose struggled the last couple of seasons as a starter.
"I was thrilled for him, but I was thrilled for us," Girardi said. "A great performance."
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AROUND THE WEB
Today has been a weird day. Everybody is coming out of the woodwork saying that they always knew A.J. Burnett was going to pitch a good and a few people seem to think that this justifies him getting a spot in the rotation throughout the rest of the playoffs.
However, Burnett was a lot luckier than good last night. Bill Petti of Beyond the Boxscore had a great take on it today...
The playoffs suck. In a way at least. There’s always one team’s fans that end the season ecstatically. But for the rest of baseball fandom, there are those upsetting moments, even before the season is done. Like realizing that your Yankees’ entire season is now on the shoulders of none other than A.J. Burnett.
It’s enough to joke of boycotting the game or sarcastically call...
DETROIT Before it turned into a complete blowout, A.J. Burnett made a statement Tuesday that he's not finished just yet.
Burnett contained the Detroit Tigers' bats for 5 23 innings on a night when his New York Yankees were on the brink of elimination.
Burnett vowed to "let A.J. loose," and he did it better than most believed possible based on how he had pitched...
A.J. Burnett plans to watch video of his 2009 World Series Game 2 start before Tuesday's ALDS start, confident he can rediscover whatever it was that made him so successful that night.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi says A.J. Burnett could have a 'very short leash' in Game 4.
Let’s all enjoy this short film while we continue to bask in the glow of AJ Burnett’s success against the Tigers in Game 4. Burnett’s just the type of smart long term investment that makes a team like the Yankees so darned successful
Credit where credit is due.. John first brought this to my attention last night.
The New York Yankees face playoff elimination in Detroit against Rick Porcello and the Tigers! Can AJ Burnett keep the Yankees playoffs season alive?
Highlighting the best Yankees comments on NJ.com
DETROIT - This is what it feels like to visit an alternate universe, where the hopeless (A.J. Burnett) are suddenly...
Curtis Granderson made two spectacular catches against his former team and A.J. Burnett came through when the Yankees needed him most, leading New York past the Detroit Tigers 10-1 Tuesday night to send their AL playoff series back to the Bronx for a decisive Game 5.
Derek Jeter bounced back from a game-ending strikeout Monday, putting the Yankees ahead to stay with a two-run double...
In the end, perhaps only Curtis Granderson's retreating, stumbling catch of a scalded line drive with the bases loaded in the first inning saved A.J. Burnett from the worst baseball night of his life. But, hey, give the guy his due. Burnett grabbed on to that life preserver and, for the moment at least, used it to save the Yankees' season and force Game 5 in the Bronx Thursday.
Curtis Granderson made two spectacular catches against his former team and A.J. Burnett came through when the Yankees needed him most, leading New York past the Detroit Tigers 10-1 on Tuesday night to send their AL playoff series back to the Bronx for a decisive Game 5.
DETROIT — The Yankees need A.J. Burnett to be better than CC Sabathia.
In the history of the Yankees, there have been few more discouraging thoughts at this time of year. First because Sabathia — in possibly his last game with the team — pitched poorly enough in Game 3 to even...
No idea how Boomer Esiason is able to make as many media appearances as he does. 5 Hour Energy is a farce, so it isn't that. In his appearance today (17 minute appearance no less) on Dennis and...
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