There was much excitement for todays anticipated pitchers’ duel between AJ Burnett and “King” Felix Hernandez. Hernandez was the better pitcher today as the Mariners edged the Pirates 2-1 to split the 2-game series.
The first inning went the Pirates’ way. After a perfect top of the inning by AJ, Starling Marte doubled to lead off the bottom of the inning. Two batters later, Andrew McCutchen singled to drive in Marte and give the Pirates an early 1-0 lead. Garrett Jones walked before Michael McKenry grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The next 2 innings saw AJ and King Felix locked in a pitchers’ duel until the strange 4th inning took place. AJ still hadn’t given up a hit, but he walked Michael Saunders and Jason Bay to start the inning. He came back and struck out Kyle Seager and got Kendrys Morales to ground out. With 2 outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd and a 2-2 count on the batter, AJ threw a pitch in the dirt that got past McKenry and allowed Saunders to score. The score was now tied at 1, and AJ still hadn’t allowed a hit.
The Mariners’ first hit was a harmless single in the top of the 5th, and their 2nd hit came in the 7th inning, this one a little more harmful. Jesus Montero crushed the first pitch of the at-bat over the center field wall. The Mariners were ahead 2-1, and the Pirates could no longer figure out King Felix.
AJ pitched 7 innings, striking out 9. Hernandez pitched 8 innings, giving up 1 run on 6 hits and a walk while striking out 5. Vin Mazzaro pitched a scoreless 8th and Bryan Morris a scoreless 9th to give the Pirates another chance in the bottom of the 9th against Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen. A 2-out single by Garrett Jones was all the Pirates managed against Wilhelmsen.
The Pirates are off to New York to play the Mets for a 4-game series. Jeff Locke (3-1, 3.21 ERA) will start for the Pirates tomorrow against the Mets’ Dillon Gee (2-4, 6.16 ERA).