By Sam Bush
You could excuse the Phillies for wondering:
A. J. Burnett?
Burnett pitched for the Phillies last year on a single-season $16 million contract and pitched terribly, though a groin injury early in the season contributed to his mediocrity — 8-18 record and a 4.59 ERA.
So when he had a chance to re-sign with the pathetic Phillies or go with the contending Pirates, he chose the latter.
Last night, at Citizens Bank Park, the Pittsburgh Pirates trotted out Burnett, and he looked pretty good.
Andrew McCutchen and Josh Harrison homered and Burnett was strong in Tuesday night’s 7-2 victory over the Phillies. The Pirates (17-16) have won four consecutive games and five of their last six to push past the .500 mark for the first time since May 1.
“We stayed focused on offense after some early hard-hit balls didn’t find grass, and A.J. got us off on the mark, throwing zeros up,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “A big three-run homer [by Harrison] a big two-run homer [McCutchen] with a big two-run single, [Gregory Polanco] sandwiched in-between.”
It has been a much different run recently for the Phillies, who have lost 11 of their last 14 games. The Phillies (11-23) are off to their worst start since 1971. They need to win Wednesday’s game to avoid their worst start since 1961, when they were 11-24.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz said. “We have to keep going.”