A.J.'s one-hitter a gem in more ways than one
PITTSBURGH -- If anyone had any doubts about how extraordinary A.J. Burnett's one-hitter on Wednesday night was, here are a couple of perspectives:
• In holding the Cardinals hitless for 6 2/3 innings -- until a double by Carlos Beltran -- Burnett took a no-hitter into the seventh inning for the fifth time in his career. The only active pitcher who has done it more is Derek Lowe (six). Others with five include Mark Buehrle, Matt Cain, Ted Lilly and Justin Verlander.
• Relievers Mark Melancon, Tony Watson and Jason Grilli finished the one-hitter while picking up a strikeout each. Add Burnett's eight whiffs, and it was the first time in the Pirates' live-ball (post-1916) history that they allowed no more than one hit and no walks while striking out at least 11. Furthermore, it was the first time in the Cardinals' own long history that it was done to them.
After seeing a string of starters stagger through the first innings of recent games, manager Clint Hurdle immediately picked up on Burnett's fixation.
"He came out, and that first inning was electric. A.J. let them know he was there," said Hurdle, who then put into words the message Burnett's pitches conveyed: "We're going to have a ballgame. Here it is: Here's the spin, here's the sinker and here's the four-seamer. Go do what you can, because I'm throwing all three all night long."