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David Brown

Girardi pins Yankees hopes to Burnett, hopes offense awakens

David Brown
Big League Stew

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We know that right-hander A.J. Burnett(notes) remains scheduled to start Game 4 of the ALCS.

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi confirmed it, for perhaps the 213th time, after the Texas Rangers took a 2-1 series lead Monday night in the Bronx via an 8-0 victory.

The debate as to whether this is the right decision won't end until we see the results Tuesday night — if then — but Girardi seems to be pinning his hopes on two possibilities.

One, Burnett will pitch OK and keep the Yankees close for five or six (?) innings. Given how Burnett has performed this season — you know the story — and that it's his first appearance since Oct. 2, Girardi probably isn't bursting with overconfidence.

No matter what he tells us.

"We all know what A.J. can dial up, and we believe in him," [Girardi said.]

The other hope, and this is where Girardi really might have something: If the Yankees knock the snot out of Rangers right-hander Tommy Hunter(notes).

Yankees batters have a collective .948 OPS in 37 career plate appearances against Hunter, who had a sparkling 13-4 record in the regular season but hasn't actually pitched that effectively.

The question is, will the Yankees offense come to life? Against anyone?

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Outside of the eighth inning in Game 1, the Yankees have 14 hits in the entire series. Mark Teixeira(notes) (grimacing), Alex Rodriguez(notes), Nick Swisher(notes), Jorge Posada(notes), Curtis Granderson(notes) and Derek Jeter(notes) are a combined 9 for 66 (.136) with 24 strikeouts.

And not all of that is on Cliff Lee(notes).

If not for Robinson Cano's(notes) output, the Yankees probably would be faced with an obstacle the likes of which only the 2004 Boston Red Sox have overcome.

So, that's where the Yankees stand. CC Sabathia's(notes) not coming through that door on three days rest. Dustin Moseley's(notes) not running in from the bullpen for the first pitch of the game. Javier Vazquez(notes) is not even on the roster. (That might be OK.)

So it's up to A.J., who said Monday: "I don't think anything I've done since I've been here, besides the postseason, has been worth anything."

But it's not only up to A.J. It's also up to the offense. Wakey, wakey!

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