May 12, 2015
Old friend A.J. Burnett was back in town, and he was very good as the Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Phillies, 7-2. Here’s what I saw:
1. Ominous start for Sean O’Sullivan, who recorded two outs against the first two Pirate hitters. They were both ripped to deep parts of the ballpark, though. There was guy in the stands who loudly yelled, “Get the ball down!” He had a point, and I’m pretty sure the same guy later yelled “Bring up Nola!” Some (not necessarily me) would argue that he had two good points.
On a fairly obvious note, it’s much easier now to hear the booming voice types than it was in, say, 2010.
2. Like the last three Phillies pitchers, O’Sullivan wasn’t able to avoid the big mistake. After allowing two men on base to start the fourth inning, he hung a sinker that the majorly slumping Josh Harrison (OPS coming into the game: .491) crushed into the left-field seats. Not quite as bad as Jerome Williams’ curveball to Starling Marte Monday night, but not good either.
3. This was an extremely difficult situation for O’Sullivan. Does he have the type of stuff to throw seven scoreless innings? No, probably not. Is three runs in five innings a performance to be happy about? No, not really. Still, you would ideally hope that a guy who has such little room for error on his pitches would be given more room for error by his offense. That’s almost always not the case with these Phillies. LINE: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 K, 1 BB.
1. I don’t know how O’Sullivan and Carlos Ruiz were mixed up on a sign in the third inning, but the result certainly wasn’t pretty. With one out and Chooch on first, it was an obvious sacrifice bunting situation. On the at-bat’s second pitch, O’Sullivan squared up and let a sinker well outside of the zone pass by. One problem: Ruiz was running on the pitch and the Pirates had him dead to rights. It’s a pretty rare occurrence when you can utter the words, “Carlos Ruiz, caught stealing.”
2. After throwing exclusively sinkers to Ryan Howard in his first at-bat, Burnett struck out the Big Piece in the fourth on four straight knuckle curves.
3. Some (*Teddy KGB voice*) veryyyyy aggressive baserunning by Ben Revere to take an extra base on his RBI double in the sixth when the throw to second from right field was completely airmailed. Harrison, who is the Pirates third baseman, was forced to go into left field to retrieve the ball. This created a footrace between Revere and Jung Ho Kang to third, a pretty unique baseball play. The ball beat Revere, but C.B. Bucknor said he slid under the tag.
4. UTLEY WATCH: Utley picked up a RBI because of Revere’s aggressiveness, grounding out to second when the infield was conceding the run. He also ripped a single on a Burnett sinker that ran over the heart of the plate. As always, don’t call it a comeback.
5. Like he has been all season, Burnett was sharp in going seven strong. 65 of his 95 pitches went for strikes. The Phillies could badly use a strong effort from Cole Hamels tomorrow, because their bullpen is gassed. Pittsburgh’s relief corps are fresh as a daisy after Burnett and Gerrit Cole went deep in the series’ first two games.
1. Pitching his third day in a row, Justin De Fratus worked a 1-2-3 inning. I’ve liked what we’ve seen from him recently. De Fratus has now pitched a scoreless consecutive 9.1 innings.
2. Luis Garcia made an absolute mess of the seventh inning, missing the strike zone (two walks) and then giving in with bad pitches. Andrew McCutchen's two-run bomb was the inning's big blow.
3. Even with the team in a big “minus situation,” Ryne Sandberg elected to use both Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon because they each hadn’t pitched since Friday. The Phils' best relievers unsurprisingly threw two scoreless innings.
1. Jeff Francoeur made a nice play on the game’s first hitter, scaling the right-field wall (or just jumping pretty high) and taking extra bases away from Gregory Polanco. I thought the ball was gone off the bat. As it turned out, Frenchy had Polanco’s number tonight. He later made another nice play on a sharp line drive off the bat off the Pirates’ leadoff hitter.
2. O’Sullivan straight up barehanded a soft liner hit right back at him by Burnett and then tried to conceal a smile that almost immediately appeared on his face. He wasn’t the only one. There were some laughs in the dugout and Burnett exchanged some lighthearted words with him as he left the field:
Good pitching matchup tomorrow night for Game 3, as a couple of experienced lefties will toe the rubber. Cole Hamels (2-3, 3.68 ERA) enters fresh off of outdueling Matt Harvey last Friday and takes the ball against Francisco Liriano (1-2, 2.79 ERA). If Hamels’ career has told us anything, it’s that he’ll become a more attractive trade chip as the season moves along because he typically starts out slow-ish (3.95 ERA in April) and picks up steam (3.18 ERA the rest of the year).