Burnett’s 4 K’s in 1 inning a 1st for Yankees pitchers
A.J. Burnett made Yankees history Friday night when he struck out four Colorado batters in the sixth inning. Believe it or not, he became the first Yankees pitcher ever to do that. Granted, it is a rarity, but it is hard to believe it had never happened before for a franchise that is more than one hundred years old.
For a pitcher to have the chance to strike out four batters in an inning means that one of them had to reach base on a third-strike wild pitch or passed ball. Since A.J. has had a special relationship with wild pitches over the years, he was an ideal candidate to be the first Yankees pitcher to pull off the oddity. Burnett’s 111 career wild pitches rank second among active pitchers behind only Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who has 124.
In fact, it marked the second time in his career that Burnett had four K’s in an inning. He also did for the Marlins against the Mets July 5, 2002, which was the first of two seasons in which he led his league in wild pitches with 14. The other was in 2009 with the Yankees when he had 17. A.J. was second in the American League in wild pitches with 16 and is leading this year with 12.
No. 12 came after Burnett got called third strikes past Chris Iannetta and Carlos Gonzalez. Chris Nelson reached first after Burnett’s third strike to him went all the way to the backstop. It gave Burnett a shot at a franchise first, which he accomplished by striking out Todd Helton swinging.
Unfortunately, that was the highlight of the night for Burnett, who gave up solo home runs to Jason Giambi and Troy Tulowitzki and two more runs on infield outs 6 1/3 innings in a 4-2 loss. It might have been worse except that the Rockies stranded 11 runners.
Alex Rodriguez drove in both Yankees runs with Curtis Granderson scoring each time, but the Yanks had only two hits after the second inning. Rockies righthander Ubaldo Jimenez, who was the National League’s starting pitcher in last year’s All-Star Game, struggled early this year but picked up his second straight victory. Jimenez, who had an 11-game winless stretch in April and May, scattered four hits and four walks over seven innings.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi correctly assessed before the game that Colorado could benefit more than any other NL club in inter-league competition because of the presence of Giambi as its designated hitter. In addition to his home run, Giambi also singled twice and walked.