A.J. Burnett, We Forgive You. Phillies 7, Nats 2

Chris Gardner

Yeah, Game 2 of the 2009 World Series kind of sucked. But if Burnett keeps pitching like this, we may just have to forgive him for it.

I think it's time to forgive A.J. Burnett for wounding our souls in the 2009 World Series.

Led by Burnett's rain-shortened six innings of work, in which he gave up just one earned run on three hits with seven strikeouts and two walks, and a relentless offense that kept their feet on the pedal all night long, the Phils cruised to a 7-2 win over the Nationals on Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The late-in-the-offseason addition of Burnett is paying off big-time, making us kinda forget about how he tortured us in Game 2 of the '09 World Series.

I never thought I'd be able to forgive him for pitching the game of his life against the Phils that night, but he's making amends in a pretty sweet way. In 43 2/3 innings this year, Burnett has given up just nine earned runs with 28 strikeouts and 17 walks, good for an ERA of 2.06.

And, he's doing it all with a hernia. I wish I had a hernia. Then, I could be awesome, too. His two-seam fastball was particularly hot, dancing on the inner half of the plate to lefties and outer-half to righties all night, resulting in a slew of very sad words from the Washington TV broadcast crew.

Have I mentioned how much I can't stand F.P. Santangelo?

In addition to Burnett's sterling performance, the offense staked their starter to a three-run lead for the second straight night, thanks to an opposite field three-run bomb by Ryan Howard off Nats starter Tanner Roark. But unlike last night, the offense added on, with struggling rookie third baseman Cody Asche adding a solo homer in the second, Domonic Brown and Carlos Ruiz hitting back-to-back doubles in the fourth and Marlon Byrd adding a key two-run, bases loaded double in the sixth. In all, the Phillies pounded out 12 hits off Washington pitching, including four from Jimmy Rollins, his first four-hit game since June of 2012.

For one night at least, Phillies fans were reminded of the glory days when the Nats used to be nothing but a chance to pad the win total.

I want those days back. They are gone forever, me thinks.

A brief thunderstorm after the sixth inning delayed the game about 20 minutes, long enough to end Burnett's night earlier than it should have. Still, Burnett handed a six-run lead over to the dumpster fire... er... I mean, the Phils' bullpen.

Thankfully, it was a big enough lead for even this crew to handle.

Mario Hollands gave up a run in the seventh, Mike Adams recovered from Friday night's disaster with a perfect eighth, and Antonio Bastardo mopped up with a scoreless ninth. It's amazing how much more effective Phillies relievers are when staked to a six-run lead, rather than just one or two.

Love those low-leverage game situations.

Oh and by the way, as the Phils go for the series win on Sunday afternoon, Cole Hamels will not make his scheduled start due to the flu. Instead, Roberto Hernandez will take his place, which makes my feelings cry.

Graph time.


Source: FanGraphs

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