After a weekend sweep of Boston had a couple of people wondering (seriously) if Toronto had the best starting corps in the AL East, a monumentally rough outing for A.J. Burnett against Oakland last night should quell should chatter, for at least a week. From the Sun’s Bill Lankoff :

Tuesday night, Burnett showed the kind of performance that has left fans squirming and manager John Gibbons playing his bullpen like a yo-yo.

He lasted 4 2/3 innings, surrendered six runs — including a five-run second inning — 10 hits and a wild pitch. The only thing that kept the boo-birds mildly at bay was that Toronto’s offence was treating Oakland starter Chad Gaudin with equal disregard.

“I wasn’t me tonight. It was my loss tonight. Without me tonight we’d have made out a lot better than we did,” Burnett said. “I’m a competitor and hung on as long as I could. It doesn’t make you feel any better when you look back and see that five spot in the second.”

“He couldn’t locate his fastball tonight. Sometimes you can’t put your finger (on why),” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

If the Jays are to be serious contenders Burnett must blossom into the dominance envisioned when he signed in Toronto: Like the pitcher he was in his opening start of the season in which he scattered five Yankees hits in a 5-2 win. “I’ll fix it,” Burnett said. “We just had a little glitch tonight.

The scary thing is, if Burnett can manage to pitch 150+ innings this season with an ERA of 4.00 or below, he might be in line for a payday next winter even bigger than his current Blue Jays pact.