The New York Yankees are in a very uncomfortable position entering Game 4 of their American League Division Series against the Detroit Tigers Tuesday night (8:30 p.m. ET, TBS). The Yankees trail 2-1 after Monday's difficult 5-4 loss, and face elimination from the best-of-five series while being forced to turn to a starting pitcher they desperately did not want to have to use in this series.
The Yankees hand the ball to the inconsistent, enigmatic A.J. Burnett (11-11, 5.15 ERA) Tuesday night. Burnett was not scheduled to start a game in the ALDS, but the suspension of Friday's Game 1 forced Yankee manager Joe Girardi to hand the ball to the 34-year-old Burnett for a game that could end the Yankees' season.
Doing what he has to do, Girardi expressed confidence in the unpredictable right-hander.
"I feel good about what A.J. is going to do for us tomorrow," Girardi said.
Truthfully, though, you have to wonder what Girardi really thinks heading into an elimination game with a pitcher who has proven untrustworthy over two straight rocky seasons.
Burnett knows there are those who think the Yankees are in a lot of trouble with him pitching such a crucial game.
"I've been proving people wrong my whole career, it seems like. People are entitled to their opinion. Obviously I give them reasons here and there to doubt," Burnett said. "The bottom line is I have confidence in myself. My teammates have confidence in me, my staff. To go out and -- I'm not going to go out and try to prove anything. I'm going to go out and try to win a ballgame."
Burnett seemingly bristled at the notion that has has to "make up" for his regular-season performance.
"I look at it as a chance to get my team a win tomorrow, a very big one. I had good games, bad games during the season. You can say the same thing about the postseason, but you can't count me out. I'm going to bring everything I've got. And just let A.J. loose out there," Burnett said.
Relying on Burnett is not the Yankees' only concern. The Yankees' 4-5-6 hitters, Alex Rodriguez (0-for-10), Mark Teixeira (1-for-11) and Nick Swisher (2-for-11) are a combined 3-for-32 (.093) with just three RBI thus far in the series.
The Tigers will pitch right-hander Rick Porcello (14-9, 4.75 ERA) on Tuesday night.
Tigers lead the series 2-1
WP: Ivan Nova (1 - 0)
LP: Doug Fister (0 - 1)
|9 - 3 win|
WP: Max Scherzer (1 - 0)
LP: Freddy Garcia (0 - 1)
|3 - 5 loss|
WP: Justin Verlander (1 - 0)
SV: Jose Valverde
LP: Rafael Soriano (0 - 1)
|4 - 5 loss|