Monday was a day that the Pittsburgh Pirates may have been better off just staying in bed. Instead of getting some extra rest they sleepwalked through a game against the Philadelphia Phillies. The Pirates offense managed just one hit and starter A.J. Burnett had nothing on the mound.
Travis Snider was the one Pirate to get a hit, a ground-rule double off of John Lannan in the first inning. He was stranded there and was the only man to make it to second base all game long for the Bucs. Pittsburgh didn’t help themselves out at all by grounding into three double plays in the game.
Burnett managed to last just 1 1/3 innings in his third start of the spring. He allowed four earned runs and four hits while walking two. He is now 0-3 on the spring with an earned run average of 17.36.
Kris Johnson relieved Burnett and pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball. Wandy Rodriguez followed with three solid innings. Duke Welker, Vic Black and Hunter Strickland each pitched a scoreless frame.
The good thing is that it is still early March and there is plenty of time for Burnett to come around. The bad thing is he hasn’t shown any signs of doing so. Burnett is simply the most important pitcher on the staff and the Pirates have no shot at the playoffs, or ending their futility streak, if he goes into the tank this season. He should get his next start on Saturday and hopefully we will get a glimpse of the 2012 version of Burnett. If not it could be a sign of a bad season to come.