Burnett Cools Just as Yanks Warm Up

 Of all the things that can happen on a baseball diamond, perhaps nothing infuriates A. J. Burnett more than his failure to preserve a lead. The circumstances are irrelevant; it is hisNew York Yankees job, and his only job, to uphold the covenant between a pitcher and his teammates, particularly in the sort of low-scoring game that developed Monday night.

A deflating feeling washed over Burnett at Progressive Field, where the Cleveland Indians countered the Yankees’ two-run seventh by rallying for four runs in the bottom of the inning to roll to a 6-3 victory, spoiling Derek Jeter’s return to the lineup.

Burnett bemoaned the damage that was self-inflicted — two walks, each scoring — more than the pivotal hits by two former teammates, a two-out run-scoring single by Shelley Duncan and a three-run homer by Austin Kearns.

In his clubhouse, Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez shared a different view. From their perspective, the pitch that produced the most harm did not result in a run or even land in fair territory. It was the 1-0 fastball that Burnett threw to Lonnie Chisenhall with a runner on first and two outs in the seventh.

Chisenhall lofted a fly tight to the left-field line that sent Gardner and Rodriguez in pursuit. Rodriguez admitted to getting a poor jump. Gardner felt he called him off too late. The ball dropped, and Chisenhall went on to work an eight-pitch walk. As Kearns’s homer zipped toward the right-field seats, Rodriguez could not stop thinking about that missed chance.

“No question,” Rodriguez said. “Bottom line is that ball needs to be caught. A. J. pitched his tail off tonight.”

Curtis Granderson hit a two-out homer in the eighth to cut the Indians’ lead to 4-3, but Carlos Santana answered by hammering a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning off Cory Wade. The conflicting opinions of Rodriguez and Gardner seemed rather fitting on a day that generated mixed returns on the Yankees’ injury front.

As Jeter rejoined the team after missing the last three weeks with a strained right calf, going 0 for 4 to remain stalled at 2,994 career hits, Mariano Rivera sat out with a sore triceps. He said soreness crept in after Sunday’s game, when he blew a save against the Mets.

“I’m not concerned at all, I can tell you that,” Rivera said. “Just things that happen.”

That is a boilerplate response from Rivera: things happen. They just do, and he brushes them off with no interest in seeking an explanation, perhaps because one might not even exist. Through six innings Monday, there had been only two hits — both by Asdrubal Cabrera — and it was not hard to identify a prevailing reason. The game began at 6:36 p.m., with two hours of daylight remaining. Shadows crept over the infield, in back of the mound, to create a natural deception. Jeter, trying to regain his timing, called the conditions “a little difficult.”

Nick Swisher was a little less diplomatic about the start time. “Six-thirty’s a dumb time to start a game,” he said.

The Indians had to contend with Burnett, who flaunted a crackling fastball and erratic control of his curveball. The Yankees had to deal with Josh Tomlin, who retired 18 consecutive batters after Jeter (error) and Granderson (walk) reached base in the first inning.

Tomlin became the first pitcher since 1919 to work at least five innings in his first 29 career starts, a stretch that began last July against the Yankees. That night, he faced the minimum 21 batters through seven before exiting in the eighth, and back then, the Yankees had an excuse: they often struggled against pitchers they had not seen before.

That defense no longer applies to Tomlin. Just three weeks ago, on June 12 at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees handled him just fine, battering him for six runs in five innings. He left a different impression on Swisher.

“As a whole, I don’t think we’ve really had his number,” he said.

Tomlin allowed his first hit, a single to Mark Teixeira to open the seventh, ending his bid to join Dave Righetti, who threw a no-hitter at the old Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1983. With one out, Robinson Cano reached on an infield single before Swisher drilled a two-run double into the left-center field gap. When he pulled into second base, Swisher held his arms outstretched before pointing to the sky, putting the Yankees ahead, 2-0.

In Jeter’s absence, the Yankees had won 14 of 18 games, and they lost Monday without receiving any contributions. In his first at-bat, Jeter reached on an error by Chisenhall. His next time up, he flied out to shallow center and, in the sixth, he grounded out to third. When he batted in the eighth off Vinnie Pestano, he lined out to shortstop.

“You don’t get hits, and it’s timing,” Jeter said. “You do, and they say you’re well rested.”


The Yankees sent outfielder Chris Dickerson to Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to clear roster space for Derek Jeter. After the game, Jeter said that his calf felt good and that he expected to play Tuesday.

Obtained by: Ben Shpigel


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