The Pirates finally got a look at offseason acquisition A.J. Burnett on Saturday in Pittsburgh. And they had to be pretty pleased with what they saw.
Burnett loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the first inning, but he wiggled out of that jam with two strikeouts and a lineout, and wound up yielding just three hits over seven shutout innings against the defending World Series champion Cardinals.
The 35-year-old right-hander struck out seven, walked just two and allowed only three hits.
53 of his 76 pitches went for strikes.
Burnett is fully recovered from the fractured orbital bone that he suffered during a late-spring bunting drill and looks poised to provide the Pirates’ starting rotation with some semblance of stability this summer. In case you’re keeping score at home, the National League Central remains a far more comfortable division for pitchers than the American League East.
Your Saturday box scores:
Cardinals 0, Pirates 2
Reds 1, Cubs 6
Marlins 2, Nationals 3
Rangers 10, Tigers 4 (Game 1)
Giants 4, Mets 5
Yankees 15, Red Sox 9
White Sox 4, Mariners 0
Dodgers 5, Astros 1
Rangers 2, Tigers 3 (Game 2)
Blue Jays 9, Royals 5
Rockies 4, Brewers 9
Twins 1, Rays 4
Braves 3, Diamondbacks 2
Phillies 1, Padres 5
Orioles 3, Angels 6
Indians 5, Athletics 1
Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.
The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.
Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.
Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.
Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.
Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.
Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.