Sunday marked Philadelphia Phillies right-hander A.J. Burnett’s third start since being diagnosed with an inguinal hernia, which hurts me just to Wikipedia, yet hardly seems to slow down this 37-year-old.
Not to take anything away from Burnett’s previous two outings, but he only appeared to get stronger in Sunday’s 2-0 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks. In fact, this little gem was easily his best performance of the 2014 season to date—not to mention first career win in a Phillies uniform.
Burnett hurled eight shutout innings, limiting Arizona to five hits while walking zero. 19 of the 24 outs he recorded were either from groundballs or one of his season-high eight strikeouts.
Signed to a free-agent contract on February 16, the win improved Burnett’s record to 1-1 for the season. It also lowered his earned run average by 58 points, from 2.73 to 2.15. Since the injury, his ERA has plummeted from 3.94.
The 16-year veteran has only surrendered two runs off of 14 hits and three walks in his last 21.2 innings of work. Philadelphia is undefeated in the three starts.
Chase Utley singled during the top of the first to drive in Ben Revere, and Burnett never looked back.
The Phils picked up an insurance run in the sixth when Utley scored on a throwing error on a Marlon Byrd infield single. Jonathan Papelbon would pitch a scoreless ninth for his seventh straight save in as many opportunities.
If he keeps this up, Burnett might find himself pitching in the Mid-Summer Classic with an inguinal hernia. Rather astonishingly, it would be his first.
Meanwhile, the Fightins pick up their second series win in a row to close out their west-coast swing. The club finished 6-4 against the Colorado-Los Angeles-Arizona gauntlet. Sunday’s victory moved Philadelphia’s record for the year to 13-12, above .500 for the first time since 3-2 on April 5—and 4.5 games back of Atlanta for first place in the NL East.
Hopefully a strong road trip built some confidence in the clubhouse. The Phillies are set to host divisional foes New York and Washington this week.
>> Box Score