Jeff Locke made his first start since being named to the 2013 All-Star team and did not disappoint. Unfortunately for the Pittsburgh Pirates, neither did Oakland Athletics All-Star Bartolo Colon, also making his first start since being named to team.
Pinpointing a mixture of 91 MPH fastballs along with 82 MPH curveballs and change-ups, the second-year player went toe-to-toe with the 15-year veteran Colon, only to come out on the short end of 2-1 Athletics’ victory. Locke, who if not for one extra inning pitched last season, would be eligible for the Rookie of the Year award this season, allowed just three hits and two earned runs, in losing his first game since April 10. It was the 15th start in a row the New Hampshire native has not allowed more than three earned runs in a ballgame.
Locke, whose Twitter icon is Robin, has had a close relationship with AJ Burnett (aka Batman) all season long; the 14-year veteran no doubt mentoring the 25-year-old lefty on the fine art of getting major league hitters out. Locke has absorbed the teaching like a sponge, prompting Pirate manager Clint Hurdle to give him another nickname, The Intern. Whatever Burnett has been saying, he should bottle it and put it in a book, because no one, not even the Pirates, expected Locke’s performance this year. It was questionable whether or not he’d even make the team back in March, let alone become the staff ace and an All-Star selection.
The quality-pitching performance went to waste though, as the Bucs bats remained silent once again in losing their third in a row, the first time that’s happened in over a month. Dropping five of their last seven now, the Pirates’ ship appears to be taking on some water to start the month of July.
The two teams will go at it again tomorrow evening in Game 2 of their three game series, as the Pirates try to defeat the A’s for first time ever; their all-time mark against them standing at 0-10.