A.J. Burnett lost his composure and failed to finish the second inning, when the Minnesota Twins scored five times on their way to a 9-4 victory over the New York Yankees on Saturday.
Francisco Liriano (9-9) threw seven stellar innings for the Twins, who played like they were taking a decade's worth of frustration out against their nemesis. This was just their 20th win in 81 games against the Yankees over the last 10 seasons, including the playoffs.
Burnett (9-10) was the one who was bummed out on this night, though. He shouted a few curse words while leaving the mound, upset at a call that gave Joe Mauer a walk to load the bases.
Jason Kubel had three hits and two RBIs and Danny Valencia homered for the Twins.
The Yankees stayed a half-game ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East race. Boston lost at Kansas City.
Burnett was charged with seven runs for the second time in his last four starts, giving up five hits and three walks while recording only five outs. He fell to 1-4 in his last nine starts and saw his ERA soar from 4.61 to 4.96. This was not the kind of performance the Yankees, who are searching for some stability in their rotation for the stretch run and presumably the postseason behind stalwart CC Sabathia, were looking for.
In the third year of a five-year, $82.5 million contract, Burnett has drawn the ire of Yankees fans for his unreliability and inconsistency. He threw two wild pitches, one that let a run score, and left plenty of others over the plate for the Twins to whack around the ballpark.
Ben Revere, Trevor Plouffe, Joe Mauer and Luke Hughes each had two hits for the Twins, and Revere and Justin Morneau drove in two runs apiece.
Valencia's first-pitch drive into the bullpen started the second inning, and Revere ripped a line drive up the middle that Burnett could only swat at with his glove before it fell in for an RBI single and a 4-0 advantage for the Twins.
Burnett left the bases loaded for Luis Ayala, who walked Morneau to force in another run and gave up a two-run single to Kubel.
Liriano left with a 9-1 lead, allowing only one unearned run, due to a throwing error by the second baseman Hughes in the third inning. The left-hander turned in his best start in more than two months, surrendering just three hits and three walks while striking out six. He lowered his ERA from 5.12 to 4.85.
Left-hander Aaron Laffey, who joined the team in the afternoon for the first time after being claimed off waivers from the Seattle Mariners, made his Yankees debut out of the bullpen. He pitched three innings, giving up five hits, two walks and two runs -- both in the fifth after letting four straight batters reach to start the frame.
Laffey grew up in western Maryland as a Yankees fan. "It's definitely a storied tradition here," he said.