A.J. Burnett’s Gem Somehow Not As Good As Bryan Bullington’s

The Yankees — the team with the best record in baseball, a team in the middle of a pennant race — should be taking advantage of last-place teams whenever possible, padding the win column in advance of their meetings with Tampa and Boston next month. A four-game series, even on the road, against last-place Kansas City provides them the opportunity to, at the very least, muster more than a split.

It seemed like a realistic goal, especially since they’d miss Zach Greinke, and since they won two of the first three — they shelled the Royals’ pitching staff on Saturday with some impressively mighty home runs — and since A.J. Burnett pitched brilliantly in the series’ final game yesterday.

What must be factored in, of course, is that the Yankees yesterday faced a starter they’d never seen before, which means they really never had a chance. Bryan Bullington, the 2002 first overall pick who just yesterday picked up his first big-league win, shut them down for eight innings, allowing just two hits before turning the ball over to Joakim Soria. The four hits and one run allowed over eight innings would be enough to earn Burnett the victory most nights. Just not against the mighty Bryan Bullington.

Tampa, meanwhile, took two of three from its last-place opponent this weekend, and closed to within one game of the Yankees in the East. The Yankees got some more bad news this weekend: Andy Pettitte took a step backward during his already-postponed simulated start. He’ll now play catch tomorrow in hopes of throwing off a mound later in the day, so basically, get acquainted with Dustin Moseley. The Tigers come to town tonight, which means Johnny Damon comes to town tonight. We suspect Yankees fans will treat him better upon his return than Red Sox Nation did back in 2006.

A.J. Burnett’s Gem Somehow Not As Good As Bryan Bullington’s