Recent

0

Bats Fail Burnett in 3-1 Opening Day Loss

A.J. Burnett struck out ten today, but couldn't come away with the win.

A.J. Burnett struck out ten today, but the Pirates couldn’t come away with the win.

If before Monday’s season opener at PNC Park against the Chicago Cubs someone told you A.J. Burnett would have 10 strikeouts and the Pirates’ bullpen would not allow a hit, chances are you would have been pretty happy about Pittsburgh’s chances to win.

Well, Burnett did strike out 10 Cubs while Justin Wilson, Jared Hughes and Mark Melancon combined to not allow a hit after Burnett’s exit with two outs in the sixth inning. The trouble was the offense and the Pirates managed just three hits in their 3-1 loss to the Cubs.

For all that Burnett did well — and there was plenty — a rough first inning put Pittsburgh in a hole that they could never seem to dig themselves out of.

After opening the game by striking out David DeJesus, Burnett gave up a single to left field off the bat of Cubs’ shortstop Starlin Castro. One pitch later the Pirates trailed 2-0 after Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo crushed a Burnett fastball well over the wall in center field.

“That’s the one mistake I had to deal with today,” Burnett said.

He would go on to strike out the side in the second and had multiple strikeouts in the third and fourth innings before being pulled after a Wellington Castillo double that scored Nate Schierholtz with two outs in the sixth.

“Overall you want to get out there and get a little further and go a little deeper but the first one, it was a blast out there either way you look at it,” Burnett said.

That was more than enough for Cubs’ starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija. The former Notre Dame wide receiver retired 14 consecutive Pirates between a Neil Walker single in the second inning and an Andrew McCutchen double in the sixth.

“The last two times we’ve seen (Samardzija) he’s been a beast out there,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said after the game. “Command with everything out of his hand. He can go get 95 to 97 and drop that breaking ball in there at 80. He used a couple straight changeups, the split, the slider — all of it came into play and he was throwing whatever he wanted whenever he wanted.”

Carlos Marmol pitched the ninth for Chicago, and while it was a typical Marmol outing (one strikeout, one earned run, one walk) the Pirates were not able to capitalize on the opportunity. Kyuji Fujikawa made his Major League debut with two outs and two runners on before getting Russell Martin to fly out to end the game.

**

It’s a small sample size, but the answers to some of the lingering off-season questions about the Pirates might have started to become more clear after Opening Day.

Right away, Starling Marte’s progress at the plate was on display. Patience was not one of his strong points during his initial call up last season, but Marte waited out Samardzija and took a six-pitch walk (the only walk the Cubs would surrender until the bottom of the ninth).

John McDonald saw his first action in a Pittsburgh uniform in the ninth inning and promptly made a throwing error that allowed Scheriholtz to reach base.

Then there were the combined efforts of Garret Jones, Gaby Sanchez and Clint Barmes. There have been doubts about the ability of all three, especially at the plate. None of the trio did much to alleviate those concerns, combining for an 0 for 9 showing with each taking a turn striking out.

**

In the “You don’t see that everyday” category:

When Burnett took the mound for the fifth inning, he did as many pitchers do and went to pick up the rosin bag on the mound. He gave it a few pats against his hip and *poof* — the rosin bag exploded all over Burnett in what was either a freak occurrence or one of the most devious April Fools’ Day pranks in baseball history.

“I just went to get it and it went everywhere — on my face and all in my mouth — it was a good April Fools’ joke,” he said. “You’ve got to laugh at that and have fun. One pitch to Rizzo and a rosin bag. That’s my day”

Enjoy this story? Pirates Prospects will be switching to a subscription site on 4/13, so that we can continue bringing you the best Pirates coverage there is. For a very small monthly price, you can continue getting articles like this, along with coverage from every minor league city. Get more information here, and subscribe today!

Share This Article

Tom Bragg

Tom Bragg is a beat writer and analyst for PiratesProspects.com. He is the former sports editor of the (Fairmont) Times West Virginian and has worked at the Charleston Gazette, Charleston Daily Mail and the (Ashland, Ky.) Independent. His freelance work has appeared in newspapers all over West Virginia and he has written for The Associated Press with stories posted to several major media outlets (ESPN.com, SportsIllustrated.com, FoxSports.com). Tom graduated from Marshall University in May 2010 with a degree in Print Journalism. Follow Tom on Twitter: @TomBraggSports

Harrison’s Walk off Hit Ends Extra Inning Affair

Next Story »

Rodriguez, Bullpen lead Pirates past Cubs

  • NorCal Buc

    Ten years from now, I’ll ask fellow baseball nuts,

    “Who once summarized his opening day performance as……….

    “One pitch to Rizzo and a rosin bag. That’s my day”

    Priceless!

Latest Analysis

  • Josh Bell made the move to first base over the off-season. (Photo credit: David Hague)

    Why Should You Care About Prospects?

    1 day ago

    Yesterday I had a shorter day than usual. The Pirates had cuts at the MLB level, and a road game. The day was shortened at Pirate City, ...

    Read More
  • Gregory Polanco

    Q&A: Trading Prospects For Rentals, Polanco Concerns, Meadows vs Appel

    2 days ago

    I missed the Q&A last week due to a common problem in Spring Training: I forgot what day it was. It was around 6:00 that I was ...

    Read More
  • Nick Kingham f

    Improving His Two-Seam Fastball will Make Nick Kingham a More Effective Pitcher

    3 days ago

    With Jameson Taillon returning from Tommy John surgery, and unlikely to make an impact at the Major League level early in the year, the top prospect to ...

    Read More
  • Arquimedes Caminero 3

    The Roster Situations That Could Impact the Makeup of the Pirates Bullpen

    5 days ago

    There are less than two weeks remaining in Spring Training, and the one area where the Pittsburgh Pirates had actual position battles is heating up. There were ...

    Read More
  • Jordan Luplow

    How the Pirates are Trying to Stay Ahead of the Curve With the New Draft Rules

    6 days ago

    The 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement brought a lot of changes to Major League Baseball. The biggest change for the Pittsburgh Pirates came in the draft. From 2008-2011, ...

    Read More
  • Alen Hanson

    The Key For Alen Hanson to Help the Pirates in the Majors This Year

    1 week ago

    When the Pittsburgh Pirates moved Alen Hanson to second base last year, part of the plan was to get him to the majors faster by putting him at ...

    Read More
  • Tyler Glasnow 2

    What the Stats Don’t Tell You About Tyler Glasnow

    1 week ago

    The stat line for Tyler Glasnow’s start at Pirate City yesterday looked great: 3 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run ...

    Read More
  • JaCoby Jones Josh Bell

    JaCoby Jones Did Fine in the Move to Shortstop, But Needs to Cut Down on Strikeouts

    2 weeks ago

    The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted JaCoby Jones as an outfielder in the third round of the 2013 draft, then surprised everyone the following year when they moved him ...

    Read More
  • Cody Dickson is a lefty with the upside of a middle of the rotation starter. (Photo Credit: Mark Olson)

    The Mental Adjustment that Led to Cody Dickson’s Dominant 2014 Second Half

    2 weeks ago

    Trusting his stuff and not trying to do too much — that has been the key for left-handed pitcher Cody Dickson so far in his professional baseball ...

    Read More
  • Third Base Mathisen Luplow Joe

    Who’s on Third? In the Pirates’ Farm System, It Could Be Anyone

    2 weeks ago

    If you have ever played third base in your life — professional, college, high school, slow pitch softball — then the Pittsburgh Pirates might be contacting you ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles

    More