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a.j. burnett

Hey, Check Out What A.J. Burnett Did Last Night

ST. LOUIS, MO - MAY 2: A.J. Burnett #34 of the Pittsburgh Pirates walks off the mound after giving up 12 runs on 12 hits in 2.2 innings of work against the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on May 2, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images) This looks familar.

After bunting a foul ball off his face in spring training, former Yankees punching bag A.J. Burnett returned earlier than expected on April 21 and threw seven shutout innings in a 2–0 win over the Cardinals. He was effective a week later in a 6–1 loss to the Braves, giving up just two runs in six innings. So, Burnett, outside of the spotlight of New York, has his career back in order, right? Good for him! Then, he pitched last night.

Pitching in St. Louis against the red-hot Cardinals — who have the second-best record in the National League, the largest division lead (four and a half games) in baseball, and 29 more homers than Albert Pujols—- Burnett had a slightly more difficult time. You thought he drove you crazy as a Yankee? He was never this bad.

Here's how the first six batters of the game turned out for him:

Rafael Furcal singles.
Jon Jay singles.
Matt Holliday singles. Furcal scores.
Carlos Beltran homers. Jay and Holliday score.
David Freese reaches on an error. (Not Burnett's.)
Yadier Molina singles.

Burnett got out the next three guys. He settled down! Then came the second inning. Here's the first five batters of that inning:

Rafael Furcal singles and steals second base.
Jon Jay is hit by a pitch.
Matt Holliday singles. Furcal scores.
Catcher Rod Barajas and manager Clint Hurdle ejected.
Carlos Beltran singles. Jay scores.
David Freese hits into a double play. Holliday scores.

So, that's seven runs so far. But he got a double play! At least he can eat some innings. Then came the third inning.

Matt Carpenter singles.
Daniel Descalso triples. Carpenter scores.
Lance Lynn grounds out.
Rafael Furcal hits a sacrifice fly. Descalso scores.
Jon Jay singles.
Matt Holliday walks.
Carlos Beltran homers. Jay and Holliday score.

After the (replay reviewed) homer, which gave Carlos Beltran seven RBIs in two and two thirds innings, that was mercifully enough for Burnett. Here's his line:

2 2/3 innings
12 hits
12 runs (all earned)
2 strikeouts
1 walk
1 hit by pitch

It raised Burnett's ERA from 1.38 to 8.04. It's the first time since 1918 a pitcher has given up twelve or more runs while recording eight or less outs. Admit it, you kind of miss him.

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Photo: Jeff Curry/Getty Images