Hurdle, Martin ejected in Pirates' loss to Braves
ATLANTA — Maybe the strike zone was a bit too tight Monday night.
Pirates catcher Russell Martin certainly thought so. When he spoke up about it in the fourth inning, he wound up watching the rest of the game on the clubhouse TV.
Right-hander A.J. Burnett probably felt he was being squeezed, too. After Martin's ejection, Burnett started seeking strikes over the heart of the plate.
They were strikes, all right — big, fat, juicy ones. The Atlanta Braves launched three of them over the outfield wall and blasted the Pirates, 7-2.
“A.J.'s command was a challenge tonight,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “And there were some questionable calls that kind of moved some counts on him.”
Brian McCann, Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman each hit a two-run homer. It was the worst shelling of the season for Burnett (3-6), who had allowed only four home runs over his first 12 starts.
“It's a good swinging team,” Burnett said of the Braves. “You can't get behind them (in the count), especially when you're throwing cookies in there.”
It had been more than two years — a span of 67 starts — since Burnett allowed three homers in a game. While pitching for the New York Yankees on May 16, 2011, Burnett served up three long balls in a 6-5 loss against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Burnett walked Freeman on four pitches to start the bottom of the fourth. McCann whacked a full-count fastball into the right-field seats to give the Braves a 2-1 lead.
After Chris Johnson doubled to left-center, Burnett settled down and got two outs. The first two sinkers to Kris Medlen were called balls by umpire Dan Iassogna; the second one seemed to catch the top of the strike zone.
Martin called time and took a step toward the pitcher's mound. When he paused and yelled an expletive, Iassogna immediately tossed him.
“I was frustrated, and he threw me out for that,” Martin said. “Apparently, that was enough to pull the trigger. I have my moments when I feel like I deserve to be thrown out. I have my temper tantrums every once in a while. But in a 2-1 game like that, when my pitcher's battling and I'm competing ... I didn't feel like it was a necessary move by the umpire.”
Martin said he didn't sense any tension between himself and Iassogna before the ejection.
“He's normally a guy I get along with,” Martin said. “I guess he was (upset) about something, and he over-reacted. If you know me, you know how I talk. I say the F-word often when I play. It's just the way I express myself. He didn't like it.”
Hurdle went out to argue and collected his third ejection of the year.
“I didn't go out there with the intent,” Hurdle said. “But for the catcher to get tossed walking away from the umpire ... that was disappointing. I didn't see the reason for Russell having to leave the game.”
Burnett eventually got Medlen to ground out. But the Braves began the fifth with a back-breaking sequence: single, homer, single, homer.
“The sinker in has been a big pitch for me,” Burnett said. “When you don't get that pitch, you can't keep throwing it, so you've got to make an adjustment.”
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.
- Steelers veteran linebacker Harrison focused on stretch run
- Friends, family, history lure natives back to Western Pennsylvania
- Crosby scores twice, Malkin delivers OT goal as Penguins beat Blues
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin ends practice with third-down work
- Penguins co-owner Lemieux snuffs rumored rift with Crosby
- Pirates sign free agent 1B-OF Goebbert, RHP Webster
- 1 dead, 1 injured after crash in North Point Breeze
- Emotional send-off awaits Pitt seniors
- Artis leads Pitt to lopsided victory over Cornell
- Starkey: Artie Rowell’s incredible odyssey
- Steelers kicker Boswell puts best foot forward