AJ Burnett came within four outs of his second career no-hitter last night. The catch was that the Pirates were playing the Cubs, who hadn't been shut out since 1965, when Sandy Koufax twirled his fourth no-hitter in a three year span, a perfect game on September 9th. The last no-hitter thrown at Wrigley Field was by Milt Pappas of the Cubs on September 2, 1972. Now, back to Burnett. Way back in 2001, when he was a Marlin, Burnett no-hit the Padres while walknig nine hitters, the most ever in a no-hitter. This was a different scenario though, as Burnett had his control last night against the Cubs and only ended up walking two hitters (and hitting one). Unfortunately, after a pair of borderline pitches were called balls, Cubs rookie pinch hitter Adrian Cardenas floated a single into right field to break up Burnett's brush with history. Undaunted, Burnett got the next four hitters in order, striking out a pair to finish off his gem. Maybe it wasn't a no-hitter, but it was still a fantastic start to give the Pirates a 5-0 win and push them to 15 games over .500.
Game of the Night: White Sox 4, Twins 3. Francisco Liriano wasn't the winning pitcher in his first game as a visitor at Target Field, but his White Sox escaped with a win. The Twins took a 2-1 lead in the sixth to end Liriano's night, but the White Sox tied it at two in the seventh on an Alexei Ramirez single. After a shockingly great eight inning start by Nick Blackburn, Jeff Gray came in for the ninth, and immediately allowed an Alex Rios single. AJ Pierzynski followed that up with a two-run homer to give the White Sox a 4-2 lead. In the bottom of the ninth against Chicago rookie closer Addison Reed, Denard Span singled in Ben Revere with one out to make it a 4-3 game, but Reed got Darin Mastrioanni to strike out and Joe Mauer to ground out to end the game and give the White Sox a win that pushed them to 2.5 games ahead of the Tigers in the AL Central.
Pitching Lines of the Night: Burnett's complete game shutout near no-hitter actually got overshadowed last night by James Shields, a topic of many trade rumors that never came to fruition. Shields threw a complete game shutout for the Rays in an 8-0 win over the A's, allowing three hits and striking out 11 without a walk. Perhaps more impressively, he did it on only 98 pitches. I bet the Rays are thrilled they kept Shields now. Cliff Lee, another rumored trade candidate that stayed put, threw seven shutout innings in the Phillies' 8-0 win over the Nationals, allowing five hits and one walk while striking out seven. The Diamondbacks crunched the Dodgers 8-1, and Wade Miley allowed one run over eight innings on three hits, walking one and striking out seven.
Hitting Lines of the Night: In a 10-1 blowout over win over the pathetic Astros, Milwaukee third baseman Aramis Ramirez went 3/4 with two runs, four RBI, and a homer. Albert Pujols went 2/5 with a pair of solo homers in a 6-2 Angels win over the Rangers. The Cardinals beat the Rockies 11-6, and Matt Holliday went 2/5 with two runs, four RBI, a double, and a homer. The Orioles got a shocking 11-5 win over the Yankees, and Nick Markakis went 3/5 with two homers, two RBI, and his tenth homer of the year. Paul Goldschmidt went 3/4 with two runs, two RBI, a walk, and a homer in that big Arizona win over the Dodgers.
Other Games: The Braves won their seventh in a row, beating the Marlins 7-1. The Red Sox beat the Tigers 4-1 in a game that ended in the sixth inning due to rain. The Reds hit three homers in a 7-6 win over the Padres. The Royals roughed up Derek Lowe and the Indians in an 8-3 victory. Tim Lincecum and Matt Harvey were both solid, but Lincecum and the Giants prevailed over the Mets, 4-1. The Mariners showed some rare offense, beating the Blue Jays 7-2.
Today's Games: Six day games today, so woohoo for that. Impressive Brewers rookie Mike Fiers starts against the Astros. Jake Peavy starts in Minnesota against the impressive Scott Diamond. Alex Cobb and the Rays take on Jarrod Parker and the A's in Oakland. Pat Corbin and the Diamondbacks take on Stephen Fife and the Dodgers in a battle in the suddenly tight NL West. Vance Worley and Edwin Jackson will duel in Washington. Garrett Richards and Yu Darvish will go at it as the Angels continue to close the gap in the AL West. Ben Sheets looks to continue his impressive start as the Braves host the Marlins. Matt Cain starts for the Giants as they host the Mets.
Enjoy your day of baseball, everyone.