As exciting and awesome as the Wild Card game was this game was about as far away from the mean as it could possibly get. A.J. Burnett has been good this season, but not against the Cardinals and that continued tonight. Before the Pirates could even come up to have the order turnover the Cardinals were up by seven and it was pretty much over. Not very good. Meh.
Burnett just didn't have it. He didn't have a particularly good first inning but I don't really think that worried me a whole ton because he's had bad innings before to start games and has bounced back to pitch a strong game. That wasn't the case tonight. The location wasn't there and it just was a bad outing. He was able to work out of a jam in the second inning but in the third he wouldn't record an out while facing eight batters. He walked opposing starter Adam Wainwright and then gave up a single to Matt Carpenter and then Carlos Beltran hit a ball about 600 feet for a three run bomb.
With the way that Wainwright was pitching that was probably all the runs that the Cardinals needed but they added on. Clint Hurdle left Burnett out to dry on the mound as he followed the home run by giving up a double, hit by pitch, and walk before walking Jon Jay with the bases loaded. After the walk to Jay the bullpen finally started moving. David Freese then singled and it was finally time to yank Burnett.
As I said it was a bad start by Burnett. He just didn't have the command. He doesn't have the fastball he used to and when he doesn't have the bite on the curveball then he really struggles. While it didn't seem like the Pirates had a chance after the three run bomb I think it was a pretty huge mistake for Hurdle to wait so long to get someone up. I don't think I really disagree a ton with letting Burnett continue to pitch to batters after Beltran but after hitting Matt Adams you have to at lest have someone close to ready. Limiting the damage was the biggest goal of that inning and Burnett was let face three more hitters and by the time he was taken out of the game it was pretty much over. Again, this was a lot of Burnett but I think the big problem I have it not at least having someone ready.
While this wasn't a must win game like it was on Tuesday it is still only a five game series. Giving yourself a chance to win the game, especially with it only being the third inning was pretty huge and I don't really think the Pirates had that chance today. Come out and get the win tomorrow and this is all a moot point but still a bit frustrating, especially at the time.
The defense wasn't really good either which doesn't help things. They had three errors and just didn't look good. With the way the Cardinals spray the ball the opposite way it was going to take away some of the shifting that the Pirates do but to quote Mike Tomlin they were "below the line" today.
Wainwright was just lights out. His curve is probably one of the best in the game and he was carving up the Pirates the first four innings or so. The Pirates finally got a few hits and put something together in the fourth inning but Marlon Byrd struck out to end the inning with runners on first and second. Score a run or two there and maybe you can chip away to at least take the momentum but that wasn't the way this game was going to go. Bummer.
Pedro Alvarez hit a bomb in the fifth inning for an offensive spark but really nothing much to be seen from the Pirates offense the rest of the night.
I would love to chalk this up as "one of those days" but it is a little harder to do in a five game series where every game is a billion times more important than a singular game in a 162 game season. The optimist in me says that the Pirates have the advantage in the pitching match up in the next two games and if they can get a win tomorrow this is a three game series where the Pirates will play in PNC Park for two of those games. I am going to stick with that.