Phillies Age and Brains Beat Up On Yankee Brawn

Bad A.J. Burnett meets Good Jamie Moyer

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    It was easy to contrast Wednesday's starting pitchers at Yankee Stadium.

    Jamie Moyer is 47, lefty and throws his fastball somewhere in the low 80s. A.J. Burnett is 33, righty and can dial up the mid-90's with his heater. They made it even easier when they took the field.

    Moyer dominated the Yankees with craft honed over years of work on the big league level. His pitches darted inside, outside, up and down and always enticed swings from the Yankees. Those swings led to a pair of solo home runs but little else as the Phillies cruised to a 6-3 victory. That makes Moyer the oldest pitcher ever to beat the Yankees, something of a hollow record since he's going to wind up as the oldest pitcher to beat a lot of teams before he hangs up the cleats.

    Burnett, on the other hand, has no craft and no guile. He's all about power, either with the fastball or the curve, and when he doesn't have one or the other he turns in starts like the one last night. He falls behind or walks hitters because he doesn't have command and then, to compensate, grooves pitches over the middle of the dish where hitters tee off on him with pleasure. He managed to pick up only 10 outs before allowing six runs, six hits and four walks.

    That's three straight bad starts for Burnett and seven bad ones -- using the quality start definition of six innings with three or fewer earned runs -- out of 14 overall. That's about par for the course for Burnett who spent most of 2009 alternating between the sublime pitcher capable of simply sweeping hitters aside and the one who couldn't get out of his own way long enough to secure even one out. In the World Series, good A.J. appeared in Game Two and his evil twin extended the series by pitching a terrible Game Six.

    It's the nature of the kind of pitcher he is, although it would be swell if he could figure out some way to compete on the nights when his stuff is less than electric. It's not like it is a skill unique to players who were one when JFK was assassinated. It's something that Phil Hughes has figured out and Burnett's got a decade on him.

    If the different pitching styles didn't make things clear enough, Burnett put an exclamation point on things by failing to cover first on a grounder to Mark Teixeira in the fourth inning. Chase Utley reached first, Burnett departed to a round of boos and Moyer was free to spend the rest of the night reminding us that sometimes brains are more useful than brawn.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.