Burnett had been laboring through the first three innings against the Mariners, hitting two batters, throwing two wild pitches and giving up two runs in that span. He was all over the place and something just didn't feel right.
"I think I went 2-0 on somebody and I was like, 'All right, I can't do it anymore,'" Burnett recalled.
"It" would be the change Burnett and pitching coach Larry Rothschild made three weeks ago before Burnett's start at Boston on Sept. 1. The 34-year-old was moving his hands too much during the windup, so he moved his hands up from his belt to his chin prior to the delivery and kept them up in order to prevent the excess side-to-side movement.
It worked and felt good at Boston, Burnett said, but then it was just "so-so" in his next start at Baltimore.
Through three innings against Seattle, things weren't working out. Burnett was simply not feeling comfortable and went with what he calls a "happy medium."
That medium was a combination of keeping his hands low -- like his old delivery -- but at the same time remembering to stay quiet with the hands and not let them move around to his right shoulder.
The result was impressive. Burnett suddenly felt more loose and settled down to throw three more innings, striking out six and keeping the Mariners hitless the rest of his outing.
"When you make adjustments as a player, it's not easy to think about it when you are on the mound," manager Joe Girardi said. "Sometimes, you have to say, 'You know what, I'm going to do what's comfortable,' and I have a feeling that's what he did last night. Then he stopped thinking about the mechanics so much."
Mariano Rivera preserved the lead with his 600th career save to help Burnett win for the first time since Aug. 15.
"I felt great after that," Burnett said of the change. "It's all about comfort. Obviously, that was more comfortable."
The righty says he plans to keep this "happy medium" for his next start.
"I'm going to stick to it and do the same work that we did in between starts," said Burnett, who's 10-11 this season. "The main thing is making sure my hands stay in the same spot and making sure they don't carry too far so that it allows my arm to drag."