Long Sunday Ends With A.J. Burnett Back in Picture

Burnett has best start of season just in time to convince some he's fit for battle

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    No, they aren't cheering ironically.

    The Yankees wound up losing 7-4 in 14 innings in the nightcap of Sunday's doubleheader with the Red Sox, but it might have been a more enjoyable game than their win in the day game.

    Watching a Red Sox team going all out with their season on the line continually fail in their attempts to beat a Yankee lineup featuring Brandon Laird, Chris Dickerson and Ramiro Pena was the starkest view of how things have fallen apart in Beantown.

    Yes, putting the final nail in their coffin would have been fun, but the Yanks can still do that this week against Tampa.

    If you're really desperate to see Boston out of the playoffs, you've got to feel good about the Rays' chances of beating the Yankees at least once more than the Sox beat the Orioles. It might actually be more fun if the Red Sox make the playoffs, though.

    Watching them get their agony extended in a short, brutal playoff loss would be a thrill that only makes their collapse seems more enormous than it would otherwise. The maximum humiliation would be the loss of a one-game playoff to the Rays, but the Rays aren't really a team that you want to see in the postseason because of their rotation.

    At any rate, the nightcap was fun because a spring training Yankee lineup held the Red Sox at bay and forced them to use Jonathan Papelbon for 2.1 innings because they can't count on the rest of their staff to get out hitting machines like Greg Golson and Austin Romine. It was also fun because it didn't include A.J. Burnett.

    Burnett had one of his better starts as a Yankee in Game One, allowing two runs and striking out six over 7.2 innings, and that actually led some people to wonder if he'll now be in the mix for a playoff start.

    The chances increased when Phil Hughes was officially moved to the bullpen after the game, leaving Bartolo Colon and Burnett as contenders for a fourth spot (Freddy Garcia likely nailed down the third spot with a good outing Saturday) in October.

    How nice that Burnett would wait to have a decent outing until the last game of the season, so that people can actually try to forget everything that came before and make his case for a spot on the big stage. These would be good people to ask for a loan after years of stealing money from them.

    Burnett is not a trustworthy pitcher and one good start against a team lost in a fog of their own creation doesn't change that. No one, not even Burnett himself, had the slightest bit of confidence in the right-hander before Sunday's game and it is hard to understand why there would be such an enormous change because of it.

    We get that there's not much confidence in the Yankee rotation right now. There shouldn't be, but including Burnett isn't any kind of answer to that problem.

    It is going back to the guy who created it and asking him to fix it. October isn't the time for such projects.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.