Win: A.J. Burnett (1-0)
Loss: Jake Westbrook (2-1)
Save: Joel Hanrahan (2)
PITTSBURGH — It was an positive night for the Pirates on several fronts in their 2-0 shutout win over the St. Louis Cardinals, improving to 6-8 on the season:
A.J. Burnett making his season debut, was impressive on the mound throwing seven shutout innings and at the plate where he drew a walk and didn’t fracture his eye when trying to square up as the fans were yelling “no”.
Burnett (7 IP – 3 H – 0 R – 7 SO – 2 BB) in throwing seven shutout innings, allowed 3 hits and 0 runs, while striking out 7 and walking just 2 batters in the win. Overall, Burnett threw 76 pitches, 53 for strikes and 20 first pitch strikes against 25 batters. Burnett had 9 groundball outs and 5 fly outs.
Burnett opened the game in a bit of trouble, walking Furcal, then giving up a single to Carpenter and walking Matt Holliday, loading the bases after facing the first three batters. Burnett though battled back, striking out Carlos Beltran and David Freese and getting Molina to fly out, holding the Cardinals scoreless in the first. Starting with the Beltran strikeout in the top of the 1st, Burnett would go on to retire 12 straight batters before giving up a single to right from Descalso.
Manager Clint Hurdle had high praise for Burnett tonight. “Most impressive thing was him retiring 17 batters in three pitches or less, ” Hurdle said, mentioning that’s something young pitchers can learn from. “For him this was opening day, just to be told last night, didn’t have a lot of time to compete and it was fun to see him compete, ” Hurdle said. Burnett earned the second win for a Pirates starter this season.
Pedro Alvarez (.121) had a good night at the plate, going 2-4 with 2 RBI’s, driving in the Pirates only two runs of the game on RBI singles. Alvarez hit an infield single in the bottom of the 4th, scoring Andrew McCutchen and drove in McCutchen again in the 6th inning on a single to right giving the Pirates a 2-0 lead.
Alvarez is taking some baby steps this week, going 3-10 with a home run, 3 RBI’s and 1 run scored in his last three games.
Andrew McCutchen (.377) was 2-4 with a double off the wall and 2 runs scored in the win. McCutchen rebounded from an 0-4 night on Friday and was hitting the ball extremely hard, nearly taking one deep to left field to open the bottom of the 8th. McCutchen batting .377 on the season, is hitting .368 in his last 10 games but has just one RBI during that span and only two on the season.
Neil Walker (.239) is starting to make things happen at the plate. Walker was 1-3 in the win with a walk and reached base on an error. Walker is hitting .400 in his last seven games.
Jose Tabata (.140) continues to be a mess and was 0-3 with a walk, and in the 7th inning was caught stealing to second base with Andrew McCutchen up at the plate who was hitting the ball with a lot of authority. It was the third time Tabata has been caught stealing this season. Manager Clint Hurdle though took blame for the failed double steal. “The green light was there and I was over aggressive, ” Hurdle said.
— The bullpen came up big in the 8th inning after the Cardinals had runners at second and third with one out. Juan Cruz left the 8th after giving up 2 hits in 0.1 IP and Tony Watson relieved Cruz, striking out Carpenter for the second out and Jason Grilli struck out Matt Holliday on a breaking ball with 2 outs and runners at second and third to preserve the Pirates 2-0 lead. Joel Hanrahan closed out the 9th, recording the save.