Bucs complete sweep behind Burnett outing
In a recent poll of more than 200 active major league players, right-hander A.J. Burnett was named the second-most overrated pitcher.
The Pirates demand a recount.
“It's way off base,” Pirates catcher Rod Barajas said. “I don't know who voted for A.J., but if you gave them a chance to vote again, I don't think they'd do it the same way.”
The poll was conducted during spring training, a few weeks after Burnett's disappointing tenure with the New York Yankees ended when he was traded to the Pirates. Burnett quickly settled in with his new team and is putting together a remarkable comeback season.
On Sunday, Burnett again was dominant in a 3-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals.
Burnett flirted with a no-hitter but lost it on Alex Gordon's one-out single in the sixth inning. To win his fifth straight start, Burnett (6-2) worked 7 1⁄3 innings, allowed two runs and five hits, walked two and struck out five.
“It was probably the best I've been for a while,” Burnett said, matter-of-factly.
Burnett's gem paced the Pirates to just their third sweep since interleague play began in 1997. It also tied the Bucs with Cincinnati for first place in the National League Central Division.
Burnett took pressure off the work-weary bullpen by pitching deep into the game.
“A very solid performance, across the board,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Good tempo, good rhythm on a hot day. He was really efficient with things.”
“Maybe I am,” said Burnett, who said he was unaware of the Sports Illustrated poll. “Who knows? I'll keep tricking 'em.”
One month ago, Burnett was shelled by the St. Louis Cardinals, allowing 12 runs in 2 2⁄3 innings. In seven starts since then, he's 5-0 with a 2.11 ERA.
“After that start (in St. Louis), a lot of people might have thought, ‘Here comes the old A.J. This is where he falls apart,' ” Barajas said. “No way was he going to let that happen. It's a testament to how much he wants to win and what he wants to accomplish this year.”
The Pirates built a 3-0 lead through three innings against left-hander Bruce Chen (5-6). Although Chen tried to walk him in every at-bat, Andrew McCutchen drove in all three runs with an RBI single and a two-run homer, his 11th of the season.
“The fact it was McCutchen who we let beat us is what concerns me,” Royals catcher Brayan Pena said.
The Pirates don't play the Royals again this season. But McCutchen seems almost certain to play in Kansas City, which in July will host the All-Star Game.
Closer Joel Hanrahan was not available after pitching in each of the previous three games, so Jason Grilli pitched the ninth. Grilli gave up a single to Alcides Escobar, then walked Yuniesky Betancourt with one out.
Grilli blew a 95-mph fastball by Gordon for strike three. On an 0-2 count, Grilli went to his slide-step fastball — a technique so successful that practically everyone on the staff is copying it — and froze Johnny Giavotella to end the game.
“You pick up tricks and stuff over the years,” Grilli said. “This one is working.”
Rob Biertempfel is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7811.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- No certainty for Pirates’ call-up veterans
- Rossi: Continuing legend of Pirate Ray
- Patience serves as virtue amid prospect Glasnow’s quest for majors
- Biertempfel: Pittsburgh native faced quick learning curve as Marlins GM
- Pirates notebook: Hurdle’s faith in Polanco pays off
- Pirates notebook: Burnett encouraged by extended simulated game
- Starting 9: Pirates place renewed emphasis on nabbing base-stealers
- Strong-armed outfielder Garcia growing into all-around threat
- Happ’s strong start, Ramirez’s homer pace Pirates past Rockies
- Pirates show depth in earning victory over Rockies; Polanco has big night
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Rockies, Aug. 30, 2015