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Pirates starter Burnett's 10-K Opening Day start no match for Candy Man, Veale

| Saturday, April 6, 2013, 10:00 p.m.

Aside from Anthony Rizzo's first-inning blast, the hardest hit A.J. Burnett took on Opening Day came when the rosin bag on the pitcher's mound exploded in his hand.

The Cubs mustered little contact against the Pirates' ace, who struck out 10 batters in his first career Opening Day start. Burnett, the leader in strikeouts among Pirates' starters in 2012 and fifth in strikeouts among active major league starters, tied the club record for most punchouts on Opening Day.

Fanning 'em

Most strikeouts by a Pirates starting pitcher on Opening Day:

Pitcher Year Opp. SO

1. A.J. Burnett 2013 Cubs 10

John Candelaria 1983 Cardinals 10

Bob Veale 1965 Giants 10

4. Oliver Perez 2006 Brewers 9

Tim Wakefield 1993 Padres 9

Steve Blass 1970 Mets 9

Source: Baseball-Reference.com

While Burnett whiffed plenty of hitters, he also racked up a high pitch count and exited after 5 23 innings. That relatively short outing, coupled with the Rizzo homer, means Burnett's high-K day wasn't quite as impressive as other hurlers on this list.

John Candelaria, for example, surrendered one run during a complete-game win over the Cardinals. Bob Veale tossed 10 scoreless innings while besting the then-Milwaukee Braves.

Burnett's Opening Day ranks lowest among these Pirates, according to Game Score, a Bill James stat that gauges a pitcher's effectiveness on a scale of 0 to 100 based on innings pitched, strikeouts, hits, walks and runs allowed.

Keeping score

Game Scores for high-strikeout Opening Day starts:

PitcherGame Score

Bob Veale95

John Candelaria83

Steve Blass69

Oliver Perez64

Tim Wakefield61

A.J. Burnett54

David Golebiewski is a freelance writer.

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