NEW YORK (WPIX)—AJ Burnett's struggles during the dog days of summer has become an all too familiar sight for Yankee fans during his tenure in New York.
As the weather becomes hotter and the season drags on, Burnett starts to lose his command on his pitches, then loses his temper, and finally loses the game.
This summer, Burnett has composed himself much better on the mound yet he kept losing. He persevered, however, has kept his composure, and was rewarded by recording a victory over the Kansas City Royals last night, 7-4. It was his first victory since June 29.
"It feels good," said Burnett, "It makes you feel like you're part of it."
Burnett was able to shutout the Royals through the first 4 innings but got himself in a bases-loaded, one out jam in the fifth. He gave up 3 runs, but he did not allow himself to let the game get out of reach. After blowing is 2-0 lead, Burnett was able to regroup and induce an inning ending double play to escape further harm.
"I was able to make pitches when I needed them," Burnett said. "I used the changeup a lot to both righties and lefties. I had a couple of ground balls when I needed them with that pitch. I didn't let a lot of things bother me."
The New York offense responded with a 3 run rally of their own in the next inning that was highlighted by Derek Jeter's 2-run triple. Jeter has batted .354 since July 22nd and his season average is up to .282.
With the score now 6-3, Burnett was able to be secured as the winning pitcher. The dangerous quartet of Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera pitched the last three innings to record the win. It was Rivera's 31st save of the season.
"The way I look at it is, we'll build from this one, start pitching a little better and give Skip some confidence," Burnett said.
And if the Yankees want a shot at another championship, they're going to need last nights Burnett to pitch even better.