Pitcher Burnett 1-hits Cardinals in Pirates' victory
A thrower can no-hit a team. A.J. Burnett no-hit San Diego on May 12, 2001, while with the Florida Marlins. He threw harder then. He was a kid with electric stuff, but he also often had command issues, walking nine batters in his no-hitter.
Burnett nearly had his second no-hitter Wednesday in a 5-0 win over St. Louis. The Pirates' ace did not allow a hit until Carlos Beltran lined a hanging curveball into right field with two outs in the seventh.
Burnett is different from that kid with Miami. He doesn't have the same stuff, but he's more in command, evolving to become durable and diversified enough to record his 2,000th career strikeout Wednesday.
“My dad texted me (afterward): ‘Best command. Who is that guy out there?' ” Burnett said.
Last season, when he won 16 games after being acquired at a discount from New York, Burnett threw softer — his fastball still sits at 92 mph — but he walked fewer than three batters per nine innings for the first time since 2006. He didn't issue a walk Wednesday. He has struck out 35 batters in 24 innings this season.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle has seen Burnett (1-2, 2.63 ERA) evolve even from 2010 when he scouted Burnett as the Texas Rangers' hitting coach.
“He was a thrower with big stuff early. Electric stuff,” Hurdle said. “The big inning was problematic for him. The wild pitches were in play. … (Wednesday) he had fastball command, all four corners, breaking ball back door and back foot for strikes.”
Burnett struck out Beltran in the second inning for his 2,000th strikeout. He received a standing ovation from a sparse crowd, and the game paused as Pirates infielders also congratulated him. Burnett trails only Andy Pettitte (2,327), CC Sabathia (2,232) and Roy Halladay (2,080) in strikeouts among active pitchers.
The milestone speaks to the skills and transformation from thrower to pitcher that Burnett has made during a career played out largely in obscurity. The paid attendance Wednesday, for instance, was announced at 9,570.
“You have to have skills. You have to have stuff. You have to go to the post for a long time,” Hurdle said. “If you are just a thrower, you don't get 2,000 strikeouts.”
Since having Tommy John surgery in 2003, Burnett has been steady: six seasons of 31 starts or more. He's added a two-seam fastball, improved fastball command, and the Arkansas native still has his signature spiked curve, which had sharp break Wednesday. David Freese flailed at a curve out of the strike zone in the sixth for Burnett's eighth strikeout of the game. Burnett allowed just one hit, no runs, over seven innings.
He needed only Travis Snider's first-inning RBI single that scored Starling Marte, who led off the game with a triple to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
Said Hurdle: “He's learned how to pitch.”
Travis Sawchik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib.
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.
- Pirates notebook: Recovering Cole exceeds expectations in simulated game
- Liriano, Snider lift Pirates to a victory over Dodgers at PNC Park
- Selig: Pirates’ rebirth a positive step for baseball
- Pirates notebook: Phillies’ Burnett not demanding trade
- Rossi: Liriano no ace, but he’s Bucs’ key
- Outfielder Polanco driving force for Pirates in victory over Dodgers
- Specialization, focus on velocity lead to surge in Tommy John surgeries
- Pirates pitching guru Benedict created a ‘Vanimal’ in Worley
- Cutch or Tulo: Who’s the better MVP candidate?
- Pirates notebook: Huntington staying patient as trade deadline approaches
- Pirates notebook: Liriano looking forward to fresh start