Someone impersonating AJ Burnett was pitching for the Yankees last night. Well, to be fair AJ Burnett was clearly pitching in the first inning when wildness allowed the bases to be loaded. Curtis Granderson saved him from a bases-clearing double. But after that, Burnett seemed like a different pitcher.
Through 5 2/3 innings, Burnett allowed just a solo home run and 4 hits. Coming into this game, Burnett’s postseason road ERA was 10.50. Last night it was 1.59. While it was only one start, it was the biggest start of AJ Burnett’s Yankee career. Pitching in an elimination game on the road, Burnett had the confidence of very few outside the Yankee clubhouse. But he put those fears to bed with a strong performance.
Burnett may or may not be able to replicate this performance if the Yankees advance to the ALCS, but he is the reason they even have chance to advance. His performance, and the Yankees offense, forced game 5 in the Bronx.
Ivan Nova will likely go on three days rest for the Yankees. Nova in game 5 yields much more confidence than Burnett in game 4, but without Burnett, Nova never would have had a shot to close it out.