Archive for October 4th, 2011|Daily archive page

Who will win game 4 tonight of the ALDS?

The Yankees need to save their season, and, lo and behold, A.J. Burnett is the one who will try to ensure that happens.

It took an interesting turn of events — perhaps Yankees fans would call it a cruel twist of fate — but with the Yanks needing to win Game 4 of the American League Division Series on Tuesday to force a Game 5 at Yankee Stadium, it’ll be the enigmatic Burnett trying to come through against young-but-tenured Tigers starter Rick Porcello.

Burnett knows about all the criticism, all the insecurities and all the doubt surrounding whether he can continue to be a productive member of the Yanks’ rotation.

Apparently, he listens to none of it.

“Believe it or not, I’ve got pretty good confidence every start,” said Burnett, who’s 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA in six postseason starts. “I try to go out and believe I can throw a no-hitter. Even last year, when I couldn’t get out of the first inning, I still took the mound with belief, and I did so this year.”

Burnett has put up a 5.20 ERA the last two seasons, and in 2011, he set career highs in homers and wild pitches, all while contributing just 10 quality starts in 32 appearances.

For that, Burnett initially found himself out of the playoff rotation — before Friday’s suspended game forced manager Joe Girardi to go with four starters — and for that, Yankees fans are holding their collective breath with Burnett getting ready to take the mound in a big start.

He gets all that.

But he has a message.

“You can’t count me out,” Burnett said on Monday. “I’m going to bring everything I’ve got and just let A.J. loose out there.”

In Detroit manager Jim Leyland’s words, the man he’ll be letting loose is “Jekyll and Hyde.”

That’s what Porcello and his heavy sinker were throughout the regular season.

The 22-year-old right-hander went 5-0 with a 3.06 ERA in July, struggled toward a 6.82 ERA in August, then finished the season going 4-1 with a 3.55 ERA in September.

“What you have to remember about Rick Porcello is he’s still a very, very young pitcher,” Leyland said. “I think he’s won 38 games in the Major Leagues already, but he’s still a young pitcher. So those things are going to happen. There’s no question about that. Figuring out big league hitters, figuring out how to calm down, figuring out how to have just enough adrenaline and not too much adrenaline. He’s figuring it all out in the process.”

Porcello, who tied his a career-high in wins (14) and set a new one in innings (182) in his third full season, is a New Jersey kid who grew up a Mets fan. His parents, however, always cheered on the Yankees.

“Mom loves Derek Jeter,” Porcello said. “Might like him more than me.”

Now Porcello has a chance to finish off those Yankees.

Yankees: Big bats still cold
The middle of the Bombers’ order went 0-for-10 in Monday’s 5-4 Game 2 loss. Robinson Cano finished 0-for-4 with two strikeouts, Alex Rodriguez went 0-for-2 with two walks and Mark Teixeira went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts.

For A-Rod and Teixeira, the two hitters counted on to ensure Cano doesn’t get pitched around too much, perhaps it’s especially troubling. The two are a combined 1-for-21 in the series.

But Girardi didn’t echo any concerns following Game 2.

Regarding A-Rod, Girardi said: “He had an RBI and two walks tonight. He was on base twice and drove in a run. I know he didn’t hit a home run, but he was on base, and that’s what you want guys to do, is get on.”

Regarding Teixeira, he said: “He lined out to left. … You’re facing good pitchers. Teams don’t get to this point by having not good staffs. They make good pitches. [Tigers ace Justin] Verlander, it’s not like you’re facing a guy that they pulled out of the stands tonight.”

Tigers: Valverde conquers adventures
In the end, it’s simple: Closer Jose Valverde has held on to both ninth-inning leads he’s been given in this series.

But his adventurous ninth innings have been anything but simple.

Valverde gave up two earned runs on two hits and two walks in Sunday’s outing. On Monday, he put the tying run in scoring position and had to strike out Derek Jeter to end it.

Valverde went 49-for-49 in saves this season. But tough predicaments are nothing new.

“He does get into problems,” Leyland said. “We know they’re going to run on him in certain situations. You can’t do much better than what he’s done up to this point. So we feel comfortable with him.”

Worth noting
• Monday’s crowd of 43,581 marked the largest in postseason history at Comerica Park.

• Opposing right-handed batters hit .248 against Porcello this season, while opposing lefties hit .321.

• Brett Gardner, who went 2-for-3 with two RBIs on Monday, has appeared in 26 of the Yanks’ 27 postseason games since 2009

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