Nobody wanted to see A.J. pitch this game. I vehemently was against pitching A.J. on the road and wanted very much to pitch him at home, were he had performed slightly better. For me as well as many fans, the thought of A.J. being the savior and that the success of the 2011 season was entirely dependent on his performance, was not an encouraging one. Especially, the way he has imploded all season on the first pulse of pressure, and the first inning was an ominous and representative portrait. A very predictable inning where he threw 14 of 21 pitches for balls, was behind most of the hitters and survived only because Curtis Granderson made a great catch.
"That was the game right there. He may have saved the season," Rodriguez said of Granderson's first-inning grab.The defense was huge and performed in an expressive way, as if to say: AJ, we have your back - now go out and perform and take us home. His performance was undoubtedly, confidence inspiring and credit must be bestowed on Girardi and Cashman for supporting him ardently.
"I was so proud of what he did," Girardi said. "In a must-win situation for us, he pitched one of his best games of the year."
Last night A.J. had velocity, was aggressive, confident and threw strikes. He did not look like the pitcher with an 11-11 record and 5.15 earned-run average or the road pitcher who was 4-5 with an ERA of 6.28 and a 1.632 WHIP. He mixed his pitches well, particularly his curveball - which was deceptive - and had better command of his fastball. Burnett at 6'4'' has been prone to mechanical inconsistency, but last night he was in sync.
At least for one game, he pitched the mediocrity label off and displayed what a great talent he can be, when he is mentally and mechanically sound. One start won’t expunge all the apprehension, but it will wash away some of the distress. The bottom line: AJ delivered.