A.J. Burnett’s late-career renaissance in Pittsburgh hasn’t been
completely surprising considering he’s taken full advantage of
moving into pitcher-friendly PNC Park.
His trips outside the Steel City haven’t gone quite so well.
Burnett looks to win a sixth straight start Saturday in
Cleveland, where the Indians will try to take advantage of his
major league-worst road ERA and hand the Pirates a fifth
Burnett (6-2, 3.61 ERA) has benefited from moving back to the
NL, and he’s been downright dominant in Pittsburgh. His 1.27 home
ERA is the majors’ fourth-best, and he improved to 4-0 at PNC by
holding Kansas City to two runs over 7 1-3 innings of Sunday’s 3-2
“You want to go out and go as deep as you can every time out,”
Burnett told the Pirates’ official website. “It just worked that
Pittsburgh (32-31) has won Burnett’s last seven outings – he’s
5-0 with a 2.12 ERA – but only two of those have come on the road.
He’s 2-2 away from PNC with an 8.69 ERA, the worst mark among the
137 major league pitchers to have made at least four road
He can become the first Pirates pitcher to win six straight
starts overall since Doug Drabek did it during his 1990 Cy Young
Award-winning season, but Progressive Field has never been kind to
Burnett. He’s 1-5 in six visits with a 6.75 ERA, his highest in any
park where he’s made more than five starts.
The Indians (33-30), though, haven’t recently looked capable of
adding to Burnett’s shaky road numbers. Cleveland has totaled 15
runs and is batting .103 (4 for 39) with runners in scoring
position over its last six games, but found enough offense to beat
the Pirates 2-0 in Friday’s series opener.
The Indians managed one hit in seven chances with runners in
scoring position, but it was a significant one. Michael Brantley
drove in Shin-Soo Choo with an eighth-inning single to extend his
hitting streak to a major league season-high 22 games.
“What streak?” joked Brantley, who’s 1 for 7 lifetime versus
Cleveland’s offense isn’t the only one having trouble scoring
lately. The Pirates are 5 for 34 with runners in scoring position
during their losing streak and have now been held to either one run
or none 19 times on the season.
“We need to have a better understanding and awareness when we’re
in the (batter’s) box,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
Hurdle’s very aware of what Cleveland’s next starter is capable
of doing. He managed Ubaldo Jimenez from 2006-2009 in Colorado, and
the right-hander was 3-0 with a 1.54 ERA in his first five career
starts versus Pittsburgh before giving up four runs over four
innings in a May 2011 loss.
Consistency has been the issue for Jimenez (6-4, 4.91) since
arriving in Cleveland, but he’s shown signs of turning around his
rocky start. He held Detroit to one run over 6 2-3 innings in a 4-2
win June 5, then struck out seven without a walk before exiting
after seven innings Sunday in St. Louis, allowing one run in a game
the Indians eventually won 4-1.
“He was dominant,” manager Manny Acta told the Indians’ official
website. “He had the good fastball with life and a little tail to
it at the end, and had a good slider. Everything was working for
Jimenez is 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA in five starts at home, where
he’s issued as many walks (19) as hits in 32 innings. The Pirates,
however, have walked just 143 times – 17 fewer than the majors’