A big day yesterday for the Pirates. I'll pass for the moment on suggesting whether "big" means good, bad or something different, as there are various opinions out there about what took place at the trade deadline. Charlie and I will have a podcast up later this afternoon which will include our thoughts and those of the editor of Bluebird Banter.
One thing I'm sure all Pirates fans can agree on is that A.J. Burnett pitched his best game as a Pirate last night, as the Bucs defeated the Cubs 5-0. A.J. had a Game Score (definition) of 91, his highest of the season. To put that in perspective, his second highest score is 76 which occurred in his opening start on April 21 against the Cardinals and he only has two other scores over 70.*
*High scores of other Pirates starters this season: James McDonald 76 four times, Erik Bedard 78, Jeff Karstens 81, Kevin Correia 63, Brad LIncoln 70, Wandy Rodriguez 78 (with Houston against Pittsburgh).
But it's more than that. The 91 was the highest game score of AJ's career. I'm not sure how many people knew before last night that Burnett already has a no-hitter to his credit. It came on May 12, 2001 when the Marlins beat the Padres 3-0 at Qualcomm Stadium. He walked nine and struck out seven in that one for a game score of 85.** Before last night, his highest previous score occurred on June 15, 2002, when he threw a complete-game shutout against Tampa Bay, giving up three hits, walking three and striking out 11. That got him an 89.
**In the no-hitter, A.J. put two men on in the second, third, fourth and eighth. In the second he got a double play to end the inning. In the third, with men on second and third (Rickey Henderson) and one out, he got Ryan Klesko to strike out swinging and Dave Magadan to fly out to center. In the fourth, he also got two strikeouts to end the threat. In the eighth, with one out, he got consecutive foul outs. He finished with a nine-pitch, 1-2-3 ninth, only his third 1-2-3 inning of the night, getting Phil Nevin to end it on a pop to short. He threw 129 pitches and had a hit and a walk himself.
Game score's weakness is that it doesn't take into account context. Certainly dominating a bad Devil Yankees in the Skydome in late August 2008 (Jose Veras was the losing pitcher) as the Jays made a playoff push. But from one purely empirical standpoint, and in a game that was significant for the Pirates, AJ Burnett pitched the best game of his career last night.team midseason in 2002 is not the same as giving up one run in eight innings and striking out thirteen
There is a ton of commentary out there about yesterday's activity and rather than have Charlie and I post a ton of fan posts and stories I thought we would use this post to link to various articles and comments relating to the deadline.
-P- I think this FanGraphs article is spot on in looking at the rationale behind the Sanchez and Qualls deals and even has a reasonable suggestion for how Qualls may be used (although I don't see it happening).