This one certainly didn’t begin well for the Pittsburgh Pirates. A.J. Burnett was given the honor of starting Game 1 of the NLDS, and it quickly turned into a disaster. From the first batter all the way until he was taken out of the game, Burnett had no command of any of his pitches.
He was able to get through two innings without allowing any runs, but he had traffic on the bases in both innings. Unfortunately for the Pirates, he wasn’t able to record an out in the third inning. Seven runs came across home plate in that inning. Even though Burnett was the pitcher that gave up the seven earned runs, all the blame can’t be placed on his shoulders.
Let me ask you something: what is Clint Hurdle‘s job as manager of the Pirates? It’s not a trick question — his job is to manage the game and manage his players.
Burnett should be blamed for only three of the seven runs. When it became obvious that Burnett had no control of the strike zone, Hurdle should have known it was possible that he was having “one of those Burnett” starts. The final four runs that he gave up were just silly, for lack of a better word.
The fact that he was still in the game at that point was laughable, as Hurdle showed complete lack of judgement in Thursday night’s loss. To be fair, after the game, Hurdle did take complete responsibility and blame for the atrocious effort put forth by the Pirates.
If you look up “consistent” in the dictionary, Burnett’s picture won’t be next to the word. He has about five or six implosions like this seemingly every season. When the warning signs are there that it might be a disastrous start, the manager needs to step in. Hurdle seemed to manage Thursday night’s game like a regular season game.
Hey Hurdle, this is the postseason. You can’t manage to preserve your bullpen — you have to manage to win each and every game.