Photo courtesy of the NYDN
Tonight, AJ Burnett and Josh Beckett will face off in the third game of the Yankees four-game series with the Red Sox. This will be the first time Burnett and Beckett matched up since last summer’s epic 15th inning game that ended with an Alex Rodriguez walkoff home run. It also marks the third time Burnett will face the Red Sox this season. It’s the fourth time Beckett will face the Yankees, despite only having made 11 total starts this entire season. In a way, Beckett and Burnett are two very similar pitchers. They are both southerners. They both feature an arsenal that relies on a hard fastball and a knee-buckling curveball. They’ve both struggled with injury and inconsistency throughout their careers. They both have the so-called “shutdown stuff” that makes it possible for them to dominate a lineup when on, and they are both very well-paid.
Burnett faced the Red Sox early this year on April 6, a 6-4 win for the Yankees. He lasted 5 innings, giving up 7 hits, 4 runs and 3 earned runs, striking out 5 and walking only 1. His next start was not so pleasant, as he yielded 8 earned runs over 4.1 innings, striking out 4 and walking 3. On the year this leaves him with a 10.61 ERA over 9.1 innings, 16 hits, 11 ER, 4 walks and 9 strikeouts. Beckett has fared just as poorly against the Yankees. In his four starts he has only lasted 14.2 innings, giving up 17 earned runs, walking 9 and striking out 15, giving him an ERA of 10.43.
The most memorable outing by Beckett against the Yankees in 2010 was on May 7. Beckett was untouchable for the first three innings, striking out 4 and allowing only one hit. In the fourth inning, the wheels started to come off. After getting Nick Johnson to ground out, he walked Teixeira and allowed a single to Rodriguez, before striking out Cano. He then allowed a home run to 2010 All-Star Nick Swisher, and allowed two more hits before getting Randy Winn to ground out. Remember when the team had Randy Winn and Nick Johnson in the lineup? Those were the days. Beckett held it together in the fifth inning, but in the sixth inning things got real again. After allowing a double to Rodriguez, Beckett plunked Cano in the knee, causing him to leave the game and be replaced by Ramiro Pena. Later in the inning, Beckett buzzed Cervelli twice in the same at-bat, throwing near his head, before hitting Jeter in the back with the bases loaded.
Despite the fact that Sabathia barked at Beckett from the dugout after he threw near Cervelli’s head, there were no HBPs eleven days later when Sabathia and Beckett squared off again. It was Beckett’s last start before going on the disabled list, and the Yankees got 5 earned runs over 4.2 innings off him. It was nearly two months before Beckett would take the mound again. Since returning on July 23rd, Beckett seems to have gotten back on track. In three starts he’s thrown 20.2 innings, striking out 18 and walking only 4 with a 2.18 ERA. Similarly, Burnett seemed to have turned a corner after his disastrous June. In the month of July he made 5 starts, throwing 27 innings and striking out 20, walking only 9 with a 2.00 ERA. However, he was horrifically bad in his last outing against the Blue Jays, giving up 8 earned runs over 4.2 innings.
Obviously, AJ Burnett and Josh Beckett are both very important for their respective clubs going forward. The Red Sox are teetering on the edge of falling out of contention, and will need Beckett to perform at his peak in order to have a shot at the playoffs. Similarly, the Yankees need Burnett’s best over the coming months, given Vazquez’s recent bad performance and his acknowledgement of having a dead arm and the creeping innings cap for Phil Hughes. Pitchers duels are my favorite kinds of games. Here’s to a two and a half hour game ended with a Swisher walkoff home run.
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TagsA.J. Burnett Alex Rodriguez Andy Pettitte Austin Romine Baltimore Orioles Bartolo Colon Boston Red Sox Brett Gardner Brian Cashman Bullpen CC Sabathia Chien-Ming Wang Cliff Lee Curtis Granderson David Robertson Dellin Betances Derek Jeter Francisco Cervelli Freddy Garcia Game Recap Hiroki Kuroda Ivan Nova Javier Vazquez Jesus Montero Joba Chamberlain Joe Girardi Johnny Damon Jorge Posada Manny Banuelos Mariano Rivera Mark Teixeira Melky Cabrera Michael Pineda New York New York Yankees Nick Johnson Nick Swisher Phil Hughes Prospects Rafael Soriano Red Sox Robinson Cano Russell Martin Tampa Bay Rays Yankees