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Monday, December 5, 2022

Pirates Notebook: Burnett Bounces Back After Rough August; Locke Moves In Rotation

The month of August was not a particularly sharp month for veteran A.J. Burnett. After tossing a two-run 8.2 innings performance in Cincinnati to start the month, the right-hander allowed at least four runs in each of his next four starts, posting a 5.18 ERA overall. But as the calendar changed on Saturday, perhaps so did Burnett, who was impressive in Milwaukee.

Burnett took a no-hitter into the sixth inning, and held the Brewers to just two hits overall in his 25th start of the season.

Things started off very sharp for Burnett. Of the first six batters he faced, he struck out five of them. Not until the third inning had Burnett allowed a base runner. Carlos Gomez drew a leadoff walk, but the running game hurt the veteran in the end.

Burnett doesn’t throw quick to home. Pair that with Rod Barajas’ four caught stealings out of 54 chances entering game action, and the Brewers were undoubtedly going to run. And that’s what they did. Gomez swiped second, then after Burnett picked up his sixth strikeout, took third. With a squeeze play on, Gomez came home easily after Burnett threw a wild pitch.

The right-hander battled back by tossing two scoreless frames and took the mound in the sixth inning.  After striking out his first two batters in the frame, Rickie Weeks singled to shallow right field to break up the no hitter. Weeks swiped second base, the eighth stolen bag so far of the series for the club, but was left stranded after Burnett recorded his ninth strikeout.

The second run that Burnett allowed came in the seventh.  Burnett walked his fourth batter with one out, which scored after Gomez hit a two-out RBI double. Manager Clint Hurdle called upon righty reliever Jared Hughes to notch the final out. Hughes needed just one pitch to end the frame for the veteran Burnett.

Overall, Burnett allowed two runs on two hits over 6.2 innings. He walked four and struck out nine, just one shy of his season-high. Burnett threw 102 pitches, 61 strikes.


Locke Moves into Rotation; Hurdle Sets Series Against Houston

Today Manager Clint Hurdle set the rotation for the upcoming series against Houston in Pittsburgh, which kicks off on Monday. The skipper elected to go with lefty Jeff Locke on Monday, Wandy Rodriguez on Tuesday and Kevin Correia will fill in for Jeff Karstens (hip flexor) on Wednesday. Karstens is expected to miss at least one start.

For Locke, Monday will be his first start of the season in the big leagues and his fifth overall in his professional career. The left-hander will be filling the void of Erik Bedard, whom the Pirates released last week.

He’s made two appearances in the Majors this season tossing 4.1 scoreless frames in relief for the club. And Locke’s stay in the rotation will be for the remainder of the season. The organization wants to give Locke a lengthy look as a starter. Hurdle said that the move into the rotation was not a one-shot deal. 

“He’s going to be that crafty lefty,” Pirates catcher Rod Barajas said on Locke, who caught him both this season and during spring training. “He’s not going to over power you. He does have a sneaky fastball that kind of jumps out of his hand. He gets on you pretty late. He’s got a good curveball. The changeup is a pitch that I call, and used a lot. He’s had a lot of success with it. He’s one of those guys that’s going to have to locate his pitches, throw off-speed pitches behind in the count. If he does that he will be fine.”

For Correia, his turn in the rotation will depend on the health of Karstens, who left his start with a right hip flexor injury. Karstens is expected to miss at least one start.


Holt Gets First Major League Plate Appearance

Brock Holt was one of the five players that the Pirates promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis today when the rosters expanded. Holt’s call up to the big leagues sparked after an impressive 432/.476/.537 line over 24 games. He hit for a .322 average over 102 games with Double-A to start the season.

Holt made his Major League debut as a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning for Jared Hughes. Holt drew a four pitch walk, then advanced to second base on the sac bunt from Alex Presley. Holt scored on the broken bat single from Andrew McCutchen with two outs to tie the game at 2.

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Bryan Graham

Thank goodness this is our last trip to Miller Park this season, can’t we just forfeit tomorrows game and use it as another day of rest?


I’m happy for Holt. He’s had a tremendous season. I’m glad he was rewarded with some time in the Majors.

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