NEW YORK -- There was an exasperated bark from A.J. Burnett's lips as he surrendered the ball to his manager on Friday, walking off the mound at Yankee Stadium after a total of 105 pitches thrown.
In fact, that pitch count appeared to be what Burnett was so irked by, calling Joe Girardi's pitching change "unbelievable" at the time. Yet the real problem was that Burnett had been erratic with his allotment of tosses in the Yankees' 4-2 loss to the Rockies.
"I knew it after I did it," Burnett said. "Yeah, I'll work on that. It was never personal. That man takes care of us better than a lot of managers do. He knows that. He knows we don't want to come out of games. I guess I could just save that for when I come inside."
Burnett's wild night featured a four-strikeout sixth inning, making him the first Yankees pitcher to accomplish the feat, but it also saw him walk five and serve up homers to Jason Giambi and Troy Tulowitzki, losing for the third time in four starts.
"He struggled with his command tonight," said Girardi, who plucked the ball from Burnett's right hand after 6 1/3 innings. "He seemed to really find it near the end more than any other point and seemed to get back on track, but he just couldn't really locate his fastball tonight. He was struggling with that."
That said, Girardi opined that Burnett pitched well enough to win on some nights; certainly, having allowed four runs on seven hits, Yankees pitchers have won with less this season.
Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez made sure that wasn't the case. Making his first career start in the Bronx, the Yankees weren't blown away by the pitcher who so regularly lit up radar guns last year, but were rather kept guessing as Jimenez stayed away from his heater.
"Very impressive," Alex Rodriguez said. "He threw a lot of offspeed pitches. He had our lefties kind of dancing a little bit with the split and mixed in enough fastballs, up to 96 [mph], to keep them honest."
Jimenez allowed two runs in the first three innings, but settled in to limit New York to four hits through seven frames, walking four and striking out seven.
"You could see every time they got to the plate, they were swinging away, looking for the fastball," Jimenez said. "But I was able to throw the slider, the curve, the split, the changeup, everything for a strike. That helped me a lot. It was like I was pitching backward."
Perhaps, Rodriguez suggested, the game might have played out differently if not for a missed opportunity in the first inning. With two on and one out, Rodriguez laced a double that left fielder Charlie Blackmon had trouble scooping.
Curtis Granderson had already scored, and now third-base coach Rob Thomson waved home Mark Teixeira, as well. But Teixeira didn't see it until it was too late, stumbling back to third base and mouthing, "Sorry."
Robinson Cano then lined into an inning-ending double play, nabbing Rodriguez too far from second base. Rodriguez added a sacrifice fly in the third, but that was all the scoring the Yankees could manage off Jimenez.
With their current roster quiet, the fans at Yankee Stadium honored a popular figure from last decade.
Giambi never donned pinstripes at this incarnation of Yankee Stadium, moving on after 2008, but there's no doubt he would have liked the building just fine.
After receiving a rare acknowledgement from the right-field Bleacher Creatures, Giambi delivered his own greeting in the second inning, belting a 2-0 Burnett fastball deep into their section for his eighth round-tripper of the year.
"I wasn't touching the ground. I was excited," Giambi said. "There's an incredible energy playing in this stadium with the fans that they have here, just being excited.
"It was like old times to have that opportunity to play in front of them again. I went up there; I think he could've thrown the resin bag 2-and-0 and I would've swung at it."
Todd Helton added an RBI single in the third, Ty Wigginton had a run-scoring groundout in the fourth and Tulowitzki teed off for a solo shot in the fifth, his 14th.
That accounted for the scoring off Burnett, and Girardi said it was an easy decision to call for Boone Logan with one out in the seventh, as Colorado had two lefties -- Giambi and Seth Smith -- due up.
"You want to keep your team in it better than that," Burnett said. "I made some pitches when I needed to, but they scored some runs and I didn't have it shut down. It's a matter of never wanting to come out. I'm not mad that he took me out, I'm mad because I had to come out."
That erased some of the quirky fun of Burnett's sixth inning, which went into the history books after Chris Iannetta and Carlos Gonzalez went down looking, and Chris Nelson waved at a third strike that bounced to the screen, allowing him to take first base.
Burnett recovered to strike out Helton for the final out of the inning. It marked the second time in Burnett's career that he had achieved the feat, having done so on July 5, 2002, for the Marlins against the Mets.
"It's just luck, I guess," Burnett said. "I'd much rather have more strikeouts than walks. The walks hurt us tonight, being as erratic as I was. It took us out of the game."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.