"I try not to think about it too much, but you can't help it," Burnett said. "I had a chance to do something special tonight, and I failed. I let a lot of guys in here down and I let a city down."
He couldn't throw strikes. He couldn't throw curveballs -- not good ones, anyway. Worst of all, though, Burnett could not keep his team in the game.
Much as he did in his Game 5 start in the American League Championship Series in Anaheim, Burnett faltered in the first inning Monday, allowing the Phillies to rattle his pitches all over the park. But unlike in that game, Burnett never settled down, instead walking off the mound in the third.
Burnett lasted just two-plus innings Monday, pitching to four batters in the third inning before manager Joe Girardi came to remove him. The right-hander spent the next seven innings harping on the outing, considering all that went wrong. And he will do the same for the next two days, until the Yankees and Phillies meet again in the Bronx.
"You've got to take it hard," Burnett said. "It was no one else's fault but mine out there tonight. It was embarrassing."
After Jimmy Rollins led off the first inning with a single and Burnett hit Shane Victorino on the right hand with a pitch, the right-hander grooved a fastball down the middle of the plate, several inches to the left of catcher Jose Molina's target.
Chase Utley, the hottest hitter on either team, blasted it into the right-field seats for a three-run homer.
Then, after Burnett navigated through a scoreless second, he took the mound in the third inning and walked the first two batters he faced. Back-to-back RBI singles from Jayson Werth and Raul Ibanez ended Burnett's night.
Long odds on short rest
Reliever David Robertson marched out of the bullpen and put an end to the inning, but not before allowing Werth to score on a fielder's choice by Carlos Ruiz. And the result was this line for Burnett: two-plus innings, six earned runs, four hits, four walks and two strikeouts. And one sullen pitcher.
"I just couldn't get the ball where I wanted to," Burnett said. "Everything was up. I had no hook tonight. Strike one is huge, no matter who you are. But especially against a lineup like that, you've got to get ahead, and I didn't do that. That's the bottom line."
Of the 15 batters Burnett faced, he threw first-pitch strikes to 10 of them.
The carnage complete, both he and Girardi insisted that the poor outing had nothing to do with the fact that Burnett, for the first time this season, was pitching on short rest. Burnett insisted that he felt fine warming up in the bullpen, with control of his fastball and breaking pitches. But none of that translated onto the mound, and Burnett wound up losing for the first time in his career when pitching on three days' rest.
"If we would have pitched today, we probably would have won," Girardi said. "That's the bottom line. A.J. struggled today. He felt good, he just struggled today. That's something that happens in the game of baseball."
In Burnett's eyes, the outing was even more disappointing due to the fact that the Yankees charged back in the later innings, twice putting the tying run on base in the ninth. But playing from behind all game exhausted them. The comeback never reached a climax.
"That happens sometimes," outfielder Johnny Damon said. "And when that happens, as a pitcher, you hope to limit the damage. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to. But he's been big for us all year, and this team has always been able to pick guys up, so hopefully we can pick him up."
Burnett thought that picking up teammates was supposed to be his job. Now, it will fall to someone else.
"I just felt like I let a bunch of guys down," he said. "It's the worst feeling in the world to have a chance to do something special and fail like that."
Anthony DiComo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.