Sunday, October 2, 2011 Updated: October 3, 3:05 AM ET
A.J. Burnett to pitch ALDS Game 4
By Ian Begley Special to ESPNNewYork.com
NEW YORK -- It's official: A.J. Burnett will start Game 4 of the American League Division Series for the New York Yankees.
Manager Joe Girardi confirmed prior to the Yankees' 5-3 Game 2 loss on Sunday that the enigmatic right-hander will get the ball on Tuesday in Detroit. He also said CC Sabathia will start Game 3 on Monday.
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The Yankees, who are tied 1-1 with the Tigers in the ALDS, had originally hoped to get through the series with just three starters. Friday's suspension due to rain ruined those plans.
Now, unless there is a sweep, the Yankees will have to turn to Burnett.
"I'm looking forward to going out and helping this team, you know?" Burnett said. "Give us a chance to get a 'W.' "
The 34-year-old righty finished the regular season with an 11-11 record and a 5.15 ERA. He originally made the postseason roster as a reliever as the Yankees chose to go with Freddy Garcia in their original playoff rotation.
"It was a tough decision between him and Freddy but we decided to go with Freddy because of his ability to pitch in tough situations and his experience," Girardi said earlier this week. "But if I didn't have confidence in (A.J.), he wouldn't be on our roster."
Burnett admitted that he was "disappointed" with the decision.
"Of course," he said. "Who wouldn't be? At the same time, it's my teammates, it's my team. I was in the 'pen the last couple of days, ready for anything. Wherever they might need me."
For most of the regular season, Burnett looked far from a pitcher capable of taking the mound in October. He had won just two of 14 starts between July 4 and Sept. 13.
Despite that extended rough stretch, catcher Russell Martin said he had confidence in Burnett making -- and winning -- a postseason start.
"I think his last couple of starts have been great. The two starts against Boston, those are the ones that come to mind," Martin said on Friday. "And I think when he just goes out there and doesn't think too much, and just lets his ability take over, that's when he's great. ... I have all the confidence in the world in A.J. He's had some good postseasons, so I think in his mind he's ready to go."
The other candidate to start Game 4 was Phil Hughes.
Girardi chose Burnett over Hughes in part because Hughes had not started a game since Sept. 12. The manager also noted that Burnett, in the third year of an $82.5 million contract, had been solid in September.
Burnett allowed just two runs over 7 2/3 innings against the Red Sox in his last regular season start on Sept. 25.
"A.J.'s month of September was not bad. ... It was a complete turnaround from August," Girardi said.
Burnett is 1-2 with a 5.67 ERA in six career playoff starts with the Yankees. He was left out of the rotation in the 2010 ALDS. In his one ALCS start against Texas, Burnett allowed five runs in six innings. He is 1-1 with a 3.75 ERA in two starts against Detroit this season, limiting Tigers hitters to a .190 batting average.
"I'm just going to go at it as a start," Burnett said when asked about pitching in the postseason. "It's my chance to get on the mound to be a part of something and to do what I can as long as I can, until Joe takes me out."
As for Sabathia, the Yankees ace pitched the first two innings of Game 1 on Friday before it was suspended due to rain. The Yankees had hoped to use Sabathia in Game 1 and Game 4. Now, they likely will have him solely for Game 3.
The rain threw Sabathia off of his normal between-starts routine. But the big lefty insists it's not an issue.
"Joe told me right away when I got here I was pitching Monday," Sabathia said. "I played catch and I did my routine in the weight room. I'm ready to go."
He will face Tigers ace Justin Verlander on Monday.
Verlander pitched one inning on Friday before the game was halted.
Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com. ESPNNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews contributed to this report.