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A sometimes-irreverent look at Detroit's Boys of Summer, the Tigers, as they try to return to the top of the American League Central.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tigers not discounting A.J. Burnett

Lots of fans — those of the Yankees, and those of the Tigers, too — are underestimating New York starter A.J. Burnett. His struggles this season probably warrant that.

"I've been proving people wrong my whole career, it seems like. People are entitled to their opinion. Obviously I give them reasons here and there to doubt," he said Monday. "The bottom line is I have confidence in myself. My teammates have confidence in me, my staff. To go out and I'm not going to go out and try to prove anything. I'm going to go out and try to win a ballgame."

Tigers manager Jim Leyland certainly isn't doubting the veteran right-hander, either.

"I'm not underestimating him a bit. He's got great stuff. A.J. Burnett is capable of going out and throwing a two-hitter tonight. I know that. He has great stuff. You know the scenario is ... this is a good situation for A.J., I think, on this stage tonight. People are hot and cold about A.J. and everything. Not us. We know what a great talent he is. If he gets it going, he can wipe you out," Leyland said prior to Tuesday's Game 4, a possible elimination game.

"We're very concerned about it. But that's the way it is. I mean, you're going to see a good pitcher in the playoffs and you're going to see a guy tonight with electric stuff, that if he has his command going and everything, we're going to have to work our fannies off.

"And the key to tonight's game is gonna be not A.J. Burnett, it's going to be Rick Porcello, in my opinion. Rick Porcello has to give us a chance to win the game, because if A.J., you know, cranks one up that's really good, you're going to have to keep that other team down to have a chance to win the game. We're aware of that. He's a tremendous talent."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn't hesitate to throw his support behind his embattled pitcher after Monday's game, which put the Yankees on the brink of elimination.

"I feel good about it. I feel good about what A.J. is going to do for us tomorrow," said Girardi, who was originally planning to get through the ALDS with a three-man rotation.

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