Burnett solid in first game; Phillies' bats asleep: fall 4-1 to Bucs

By SAMUEL BOTWINICK | Staff Writer
March 2, 2014, 4:00 p.m.
@avdbkr20samuel

Sunday was a big game for A.J. Burnett and the Phillies.  Burnett was making his debut against the team that he pitched for last season.  Pirates' fans were wondering whether it had been a mistake to let Burnett go.  

The Phillies', after spending $16 million on him for just one year, were going to see if they had made a worthy investment.  They did, as Burnett went two innings, allowing one earned run on one hit, and struck out one.  It wasn't enough, though, as he and the Phillies fell to the Pirates 4-1at Bright House Field.


Burnett was a bit shaky early, though.  After striking out the Pirates' left fielder, Jaff Decker, he yielded a double to Pirates' center fielder, Gregory Polanco.  Polanco then advanced to third on Travis Snider's ground-out, and scored on Chris Dickerson's fielder's choice to give the Pirates an early 1-0 lead.

Stolmy Pimentel, who opposed Burnett, fared a better result as he won the game, tossing two innings of one-hit ball, while striking out one.


The Phillies had a theme on Sunday of looking like they were getting out of innings just fine, but seemed to run into problems with two outs.

In the top of the third, Jesse Biddle, who came in to relieve Burnett, punched out the first two batters, but allowed a two-out single to the left-handed hitting slugger, Pedro Alvarez, to keep the inning alive.  The Pirates made him pay, as with an 0-2 count, and with the runner going on the pitch, Dickerson drilled a double perfectly between the left and center fielder, which allowed Alvarez to score all the way from first, and increase the Pirates' lead to 2-0.    


The Pirates scored fast and early due in large part to the Phillies' ineptitude on defense.  

In the top of the fourth, Biddle walked the Pirates' catcher, Chris Stewart, to start the inning.  Stewart advanced to second on Josh Harrison's sacrifice bunt, and went to third on Jordy Mercer's ground-out to second.

Then the trouble for the Phillies started.  With two outs, it seemed like the inning was over when Decker popped a routine pop-up into center field, but Tony Gwynn couldn't handle it in the sunlight, which allowed Stewart to trot home, and make the score 3-0, Pirates.

Being down early is one thing, but being held scoreless for the entire game is demoralizing for a team's morale and psyche.  The Phillies were able to score in the bottom of the fifth, thanks to some wild pitching from Yao-Hsun Yang, who replaced Adam Wilk.  

With one out, Freddy Galvis singled to left, moved to third after consecutive batters were hit by a pitch, and scored on Carlos Ruiz's walk, to get the Phillies to within two, 3-1.

The theme of allowing runs with two outs continued in the top of the sixth, this time with a full count.  Following a pitching change between Jonathan Papelbon and Antonio Bastardo, Bastardo seemed to have navigated his way out of the inning with no damage done, but once again he didn't.  

With two outs and a full count pitch to the Pirates' second baseman, Josh Harrison, Bastardo surrendered a solo shot to left to help the Pirates gain a 4-1 advantage.

There were plenty of missed opportunities  for the Phillies' offense on Sunday.  While they outhit the Pirates, 7-6, their efforts didn't translate to runs on the scoreboard.  The Phillies were an abysmal 1-9 with runners in scoring position, and left 10 men on base.

The ninth inning got interesting for the Phillies.  With two outs and runners on first and second, the potential tying run, Sebastian Valle, stepped to the plate.  Instead of changing the lead, he grounded out into a 6-4-3 inning and game-ending double play.

Pirates' reliever, Cody Eppley, notched the save in relief, tossing a scoreless ninth, while allowing one hit. 

News and Notes:  The Phillies will look to bounce back when they play the Rays on Monday.  Papelbon, Jake Diekman, and Brad Lincoln each tossed a scoreless inning in relief.      

- The Philadelphia Baseball Review is the top baseball news blog in Philadelphia, providing news coverage and analysis of the 2014 Phillies and baseball in the Philadelphia-region. 

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