PITTSBURGH — A.J. Burnett insists this is it. That after 17 years in the majors, he is done whenever the Pittsburgh Pirates season ends, no matter what.
Funny, nobody told his stuff. The way Burnett is dealing at the moment, he hardly looks like a guy counting down the days to retirement.
Dazzling the New York Mets with impeccable command, Burnett won his fourth straight start in an 8-2 victory on May 23, easily outdueling an uncharacteristically sloppy Matt Harvey to lower his ERA to 1.37, the best in the majors.
Heady stuff for a 38-year-old who led the National League in losses, walks and earned runs during a forgettable and injury-marred 2014 in Philadelphia.
“He’s like a kid in the backyard out there that’s having some fun that is being aggressive and very, very purposeful on the mound,” Pittsburgh Manager Clint Hurdle said. “He’s pitching as well as I’ve ever seen him pitch. He’s doing more. He’s doing his job.”
One that is helping the Pirates linger around .500 despite an uneven opening two months. Facing one of the game’s brightest young talents in Harvey, Burnett (4-1) dominated, striking out 10 without walking a batter.
“I just look at leaving it all out on the field, knowing it’s my last go around,” Burnett said. “It’s fun to pitch for (my teammates), to be around them. They bring so much out of me.”
And for once Pittsburgh’s offense gave Burnett plenty of wiggle room. Andrew McCutchen and Pedro Alvarez both homered and drove in two runs while Josh Harrison extended his hitting streak to 10 games by going 2 for 4 with two RBI.
“It shows what we can do when we’re ready to hit,” Harrison said. “We got some pitches today and we didn’t miss them.”
Harvey (5-2) lasted only four innings, the shortest outing of his career. He gave up a career-worst seven runs on six hits and also threw two wild pitches, matching the number he had all of the 2013 season.
New York has dropped four of five. Daniel Murphy had two hits, and Ruben Tejada homered for the Mets.
“Everything was kind of all over the place,” Harvey said. “I wasn’t locating obviously. My arm feels fine, my body feels fine. It was one of those days where if I tried to spin it, it was over the middle. If I tried to throw a fastball in, it was away and vice versa. It’s just a pretty terrible outing. ”
(WILL GRAVES, AP Sports Writer)