Phillies' Burnett struggles to find positives

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Phillies' Chase Utley removes batting gloves after striking out to end the eighth inning yesterday against the Angels.
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Phillies' Chase Utley removes batting gloves after striking out to end the eighth inning yesterday against the Angels.
Posted: May 16, 2014

AFTER FIVE innings of yesterday's matinee, the Phillies had just two hits and had yet to advance a runner to third base. A.J. Burnett, meanwhile, had allowed nine of the first 15 Angels batters he faced to reach base.

Burnett and the Phillies were lucky to be trailing by only three runs through those five innings. That was one of the positives Burnett tried to take out of his second straight so-so start.

The righthander allowed single runs in each of his first three innings, but he also watched the Angels leave seven baserunners on in the game's first five innings while going 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.

"Every inning there were guys on base," Burnett said. "I'm not going to give up out there, I don't care if I walk eight or give up 12 - 12 hits or 12 runs - I'm still going to try to get guys out. I was able to minimize as much as I could. As many times as there were guys on base. That's always a plus."

But after beginning the season by going 2-1 with a 2.06 ERA in his first seven starts, with the Phillies winning five of those seven games, Burnett is 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA in his last two starts.

Burnett needed a season-high 113 pitches to get through just five innings. He walked five batters, one short of matching his season high.

"They hit a couple of balls in the right spot early and the walks don't help much," Burnett said. "First-pitch strikes are big, getting ahead of guys, allowing my off-speed stuff to work. When I don't get ahead of guys, they tend to make me work a bit, and that's what this team did, they made me work."

After allowing back-to-back singles to begin the second, Burnett limited the damage to one run by striking out back-to-back hitters and then getting Mike Trout to hit a hard line drive right at Ben Revere in center. He strafed five more runners in the third and fifth innings thanks to doubleplay ground balls, both started by third baseman Cody Asche, who made three errors the night before.

"Cody had a game [Tuesday] night you want to forget about and he came up today and made a big doubleplay for me," Burnett said. "That's a positive."

"It was nice to be back out there for sure," Asche said. "Going into today, you have to put yesterday behind you. That's part of being a professional. Just going out and doing what's expected of you regardless of yesterday or what lies ahead."

After a couple of starts he'd probably rather forget, Burnett will move forward with the same approach.

"I know I need to make pitches, I know I left balls over the plate, and giving up free passes a lot," Burnett said. "Just throw strikes. It's not that hard."

Trout season

The cheers and ovations from Tuesday night continued into yesterday for Millville, N.J., native Mike Trout, who made his first professional appearance in Philadelphia this week.

Trout, widely regarded as the game's best player, had a fairly quiet series, however. At least up until he hit a booming triple off Mike Adams to lead off the seventh inning and gave thought to stealing home, which would have surely pleased the large contingent of fans from Millville at Citizens Bank Park.

"It was in the back of my mind," the fleet-footed centerfielder said. "I was looking in the dugout. It'd be dangerous, though, if the hitter didn't know."

The triple helped Trout break out of a minislump.

He entered the at-bat 5-for-41 (.122) in a 12-game stretch since May 2. When he struck out in his first at-bat yesterday, it was his league-leading 50th strikeout of the season.

Trout finished his Philadelphia homecoming 2-for-9 with a triple, a stolen base, three strikeouts and a lot of love from red-clad fans supporting both teams.

"It was a quick 2 days, two wins," Trout said. "It's been a blast. I was feeling something special just driving to the stadium."


Righthander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez will begin a minor league rehab assignment at Class A Clearwater today. Gonzalez, the Cuban free agent signed to a 3-year, $12 million deal in August, missed the majority of spring training with a shoulder injury and began the season on the 60-day DL . . . Jimmy Rollins tied Hall of Famer Ed Delahanty for third place on the Phillies' all-time hit list with a single in the sixth inning. Rollins, who has 2,211 career hits, is 23 hits away from tying Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt for the franchise record . . . Former Phillie Raul Ibanez started in leftfield and batted fourth for the Angels yesterday, his first appearance at Citizens Bank Park since 2011. Ibanez, who turns 42 next month, went 1-for-2 with an RBI, two walks and a stolen base. The RBI was the 1,200th of Ibanez' career. By stealing a base twice in the last four games, Ibanez managed to equal his stolen-base output over his previous 280 games (April 11, 2012-May 7, 2014) . . . Kyle Kendrick (0-3, 3.98 ERA) starts tomorrow when the Phillies host the Cincinnati Reds. Kendrick is 3-3 with a 4.41 ERA in nine career games (eight starts) vs. the Reds. He'll be opposed by righthander Homer Bailey (3-2, 4.72).

On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21


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