Sometimes, good things happen when A.J. Burnett bunts.
On Friday, the Detroit Tigers turned a routine bunt by Burnett into a two-run, two-error misadventure that sparked the Pirates to a 4-1 victory.
It was the seventh consecutive win for Burnett (8-2), who owns the third-longest active streak in the majors. R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets has reeled off nine straight wins, and Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants has won eight in a row.
It's the longest run by a Pirates pitcher since Dock Ellis won eight straight in 1974.
"As long as we're winning, it's all good," Burnett said. "It's not about me out there. It's about passing the baton. We jumped on them early and then made pitches when we needed to."
Despite missing the first two weeks of the regular season, Burnett leads the Pirates in wins and ranks second with 78 innings pitched.
In the opening week of spring training, Burnett fouled a ball into his face during the pitchers' annual bunting contest. Surgery was required to repair the shattered orbital bone around his right eye.
Burnett had a sacrifice bunt April 27, his second start this season, but hasn't gotten one since. With the Pirates leading, 2-0, in the second inning, Pedro Alvarez and Rod Barajas hit back-to-back singles off Doug Fister (1-4). Clint Barmes struck out.
Burnett took two balls, then bunted the ball toward the mound. Fister pounced, but his throw went over the head of third baseman Miguel Cabrera. Alvarez scored. It took left fielder Delmon Young a while to get to the ball. He then dropped it as he tried to throw it to the infield. Barajas never stopped chugging and scored with a head-first slide.
"I saw Delmon drop the ball and said, 'All right, let's take a chance here,' " Barajas said. "It worked out."
Burnett, Pirates dominate Tigers
Pittsburgh Tribune Review | Jun 23