Burnett hurls a gem in Phillies' victory

Posted: August 27, 2014

LAST WEEK, A.J. Burnett said he was "probably" going to retire after the season. It wasn't exactly a surprising development, since Burnett spent the first three months of last offseason thinking along the same lines.

But after delivering his first stellar start in more than a month on Monday night, Burnett's words from a week ago are somewhat relevant.

Burnett tossed five zeros on the board for the first five innings against a very talented team in leading the Phillies to a 3-2 victory.

Burnett held Washington, owner of the best record in the National League, to one run on three hits in seven innings. He struck out 12, while walking only one.

"The difference was more strikes early on in the at-bats," Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg said of Burnett, who walked eight batters in his previous two starts. "He does a good job of expanding the strike zone when he has to, but to get the strikes first is the key for him."

While it might still be a longshot, since the 37-year-old can earn as much as $12.75 million next season and hasn't completely ruled out a return, Burnett's start on Monday could entice a contending to take a shot on him for the season's final month. Players who pass through waivers can still be traded (and eligible for postseason play with their new teams) if they're dealt before Sept. 1.

Burnett and closer Jonathan Papelbon reportedly cleared waivers earlier this month, while Cole Hamels and Marlon Byrd were claimed (and pulled back by the Phillies, and no longer are allowed to be traded).

"I think there still may be something that happens," Amaro said before the game on whether he expected to make a deal. "But who knows? A lot depends on what team's needs may be in the next 5 or 6 days. We've been in contact with some clubs."

Before Monday, Burnett had looked untradeable since the season's first month.

Burnett entered the day with a 5.23 ERA in his previous 20 starts. The Phillies had lost seven straight games Burnett had started; he had a 6.41 ERA with an unfavorable strikeout-to-walk ratio (37 strikeouts and 19 walks - and fou hit batters - in 39 innings).

But the Burnett who took the mound Monday night looked more like the difference maker who revived his career in Pittsburgh in 2012 and 2013. He retired the first eight hitters, five via strikeout.

There was a reason: Burnett found a change in his leg kick while looking at video after his last start.

"A minor adjustment - and I seemed to get a little something extra ," Burnett said. "It's the first 'W' in a long time, the first time I felt like me in a long time. I wish I could have felt that little glitch a month, 2 months ago."

Burnett took the shutout into the sixth, when Anthony Rendon found the flower bed beyond the leftfield wall for his 17th home run of the season.

But the Phillies, up, 2-0, before that home run, got that run back when Carlos Ruiz hit a solo shot of his own in the seventh. Cody Asche also homered for the Phillies.

Ruiz' home run might have been a two-run shot if it weren't for Domonic Brown. Brown, who preceded Ruiz to the plate, tried to stretch a single into a double, was originally ruled safe, but jogged back to the dugout after a replay review showed his foot popped off the bag after the slide.

A half inning earlier, Brown badly misplayed a line drive, ruled a double by the official scorer after it caromed off the leftfielder's glove. It was his third shaky defensive play in the field in the last three games.

"Well, he's bounced around in the outfield. He hasn't been a Gold Glover up to this point," Sandberg said. "But he takes his pregame, he shags very well, he prepares himself in the outfield. He's continued to work at it."

Mike Adams update

Mike Adams will pitch in a game for the first time in nearly 3 months tonight in Allentown.

Adams, placed on the disabled list with right rotator cuff inflammation on June 7, will begin a rehab assignment at Triple A Lehigh Valley. The 36-year-old veteran reliever hopes to close out an injury-riddled two seasons with the Phillies on a positive note.

Adams has pitched in 47 games in the last two seasons after signing a 2-year, $12 million deal two winters ago. The contract included an option for a third year that could have become guaranteed had Adams pitched at least 60 innings this season; he's pitched 17 innings.

"When I signed here 2 years ago, I expected a lot more than what I've done," Adams said. "There probably isn't anyone more disappointed by the situation than myself. I proclaimed it would be a good 3-year deal, and, obviously, it hasn't worked out that way. I said I didn't want to steal money, and that's exactly what happened. Right now, the most important thing is to stay healthy and finished this last month, and what happens after that happens."

Adams, who has had 11 surgeries during his 10-year career, said he'd like to continue pitching next season.

Phillers

Ben Revere, who entered the night tied with Colorado's Justin Morneau in the NL batting race, went 0-for-4, dropping his average to .311 . . . No player in major league history went longer between his first and second career RBI than Phillies righthander Jerome Williams, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Williams' second-inning RBI on Sunday, on a squeeze bunt, was the second RBI of his career and first since Sept. 11, 2003. Williams went 4,000 days between his first and second career RBI . . . Cole Hamels (7-6, 2.53 ERA) will square off with fellow lefty and former Phillies prospect Gio Gonzalez (6-9, 3.83) tonight. Hamels has a 1.77 ERA in his last 16 starts. In tomorrow's series finale, righthanders Kyle Kendrick (6-11, 4.93) and Doug Fister (12-4, 2.38) are on tap to pitch.


On Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

Blog: ph.ly/HighCheese

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