So now we know this: A.J. Burnett can pitch a little better as a blond than he did with his old hair. Otherwise Tuesday night provided very little clarity on an increasingly vexing issue for the Yankees, who have now lost three straight games, suffered two straight meltdowns by Mariano Rivera and have an alleged No. 2 starter who sometimes makes you yearn for the good old days of Javier Vazquez and Jaret Wright.Post:
"I wouldn't change a lot that I did," Burnett said, after Tuesday night's 6-4 loss to the Angels - a defeat that included a raft of plays that will never be shown on "Yankeeography." ...
There was Brett Gardner swinging at an obvious ball four with a full count in the ninth against a nervous Angels closer, Jordan Walden. Most of all, there was an unfathomable vapor lock two batters later by Curtis Granderson, who started the Yankee offense with his 29th home run in the first inning, and ended it by getting picked off by Walden with the winning run at the plate in the person of Mark Teixeira.
As Eduardo Nuñez led off from third with two down in the ninth, Granderson was so intent on getting to second that he fell for Walden's fake-to-third, throw-to-first on the third time he tried it. ...
Burnett remains 8-9. He hasn't won a game since June and hasn't won a game in August in three seasons as a Yankee. You keep hearing about Burnett's hellacious arsenal, his nasty fastball and wicked curve, and it's all true, and completely besides the point. He is in pinstripes what he has pretty much always been: about a .500 pitcher who is maddeningly erratic, fully capable of pitching like Bob Gibson one inning and like Debbie Gibson the next. It doesn't make him a bad person; he still gives a nice pie in the face.
It does make him a guy you can't trust in a short playoff series, or really, any other time.
If Mo goes south, the Yankees have no chance.
Joe Girardi's club can live with A.J. Burnett being the Mediocre Man just trying to have fun. They can survive for a time without Alex Rodriguez and they can weather Jorge Posada's struggles that cost him his DH job.
But if Mariano Rivera falters, the Yankees might as well call it a season. They go as Mo goes.
The Great Rivera stumbled for the second straight game last night, surrendering a two-run home run to Bobby Abreu in the ninth inning. ...
Rivera's problems against the Red Sox are well chronicled, but his issues with the Angels cannot be overlooked. The Yankees need Rivera against both of these playoff contenders, but both seem to have Rivera's number. That's a scary thought.