Saturday, April 21, 2012

Odd Couple Cage Birds 2-0

Man, talk about a pair of unlikely heroes. AJ Burnett, who was supposed be tossing for the Altoona Curve tonight, and Pedro Alvarez, whose BA was barely higher than the temperature, teamed up to defeat the Cards tonight 2-0.

Burnett started off like a AA pitcher, loading the bases with nobody out thanks to a single sandwiched between a pair of free passes. But he came back to whiff Carlos Beltran and David Freese swinging, and skipped home free after Yadier Molina lined out to Clint Barmes.

The Cardinals never had another runner in scoring position against Burnett, who retired 12 batters in a row and gave up just two more hits in his seven innings of work. He walked a pair and struck out seven while serving up 76 pitches, with 24 coming in the opening frame.

The Pirates didn't exactly swat Jake Westbrook around. They drew first blood in the fourth inning. Cutch and Neil Walker had back-to-back knocks to put runners on the corners. Pedro Alvarez smoked a two-strike change up to third that Freese could only knock down to make it 1-0.

The sixth inning starred the same cast. With an out, McCutch doubled the opposite way off the Clemente Wall and Walker took a four pitch base on balls. With two outs and runners on the corners after a force out, Alvarez rolled another change up into right, and it was 2-0. That would prove plenty, though not without a nervous few moments in the last two innings.

With Burnett gone, Juan Cruz climbed the hill in the eighth. Shane Robinson and Tyler Greene led off with singles and Rafael Furcal bunted them up a sack. Tony Watson took the ball, and K'ed Matt Carpenter swinging.  Matt Holliday faced Jason Grilli; same result.

Hanny made it interesting in the ninth. After a K, he walked the next pair of Redbirds. Then he fell behind 3-1 to Erik Komatsu, but rallied to nail him swinging on a foul tip. Robinson bounced the first pitch he saw to the hot corner, and Alvarez capped his night by stepping on the sack to seal the victory.

Kyle Lohse goes against Erik Bedard in the rubber match tomorrow afternoon.

  • Burnett got 17 of his 21 outs with three pitches or less. 
  • Best tweet of the evening, by Andrew McCutchen: "The fans had me weak wen yall were screamin at A.J. Burnett not to bunt." Burnett said after the game about that bunt attempt "I didn't know what the noise was about til I figured it out a couple pitches later. I think that's awesome."
  • Tonight was Joel Hanrahan's first outing since a 31 pitch effort Sunday against the Giants when he tweaked his hammy.
  • The Pirates drew 25,218 on a miserable night, another decent showing by the fans. After all that lovely March weather, the City is under a winter storm warning for tomorrow night.
  • This is the first time the Cards have been held under two runs this season. They were hitting .287 coming into the game, but were limited to five knocks, all singles.
  • Clint Hurdle told reporters that Kevin Correia was held out merely as a precaution, and it will be a game day decision on Monday whether KC or Brad Lincoln will get the start against the Rox.
  • Fourteen games played, and fourteen times neither Pittsburgh nor its foe could crack the five run ceiling.
  •  West Virginia Power SS Alen Hanson had three more hits tonight, bringing his average up to .420.

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