MLB pitcher nearly throws 2nd career no-hitter

784044.jpg

MLB pitcher nearly throws 2nd career no-hitter

From Comcast SportsNet
CHICAGO (AP) -- One thought kept crossing A.J. Burnett's mind as he made his dramatic push for a no-hitter. He wanted it -- badly. Instead, he will have to settle for a close call and maybe the best performance of his career. Burnett pitched a one-hitter, Neil Walker drove in five runs and the Pittsburgh Pirates beat Chicago 5-0 on Tuesday night, hours after the Cubs traded ace Ryan Dempster. Burnett started thinking about a no-hitter in the third or fourth inning. "I'm not going to lie," he said. "So, it's one of those things that you want to do, you want to take pride in, but at the same time a lot of luck's got to go into it. I had a lot of great plays behind me. ... Bottom line is it's a W' for us." Burnett just about stole the spotlight after the Cubs traded their best pitcher to Texas just before the non-waiver deadline. His bid for a second career no-hitter and the sixth in the majors this season ended with two outs in the eighth. He had already hit Darwin Barney in the helmet with one out before striking out Luis Valbuena, but his no-hit bid ended at the hands of a rookie when pinch-hitter Adrian Cardenas lined a 3-2 pitch to right for a single after two close pitches were called balls. Burnett said he was angry about a 2-2 curve that just missed outside, and he appeared to be yelling at the umpire after the hit. But he struck out David DeJesus with runners on first and third to end the inning. That's probably not much consolation for the veteran, who pitched a wild no-hitter for the Marlins against San Diego on May 12, 2001. He walked nine in that game, two in this one while striking out eight. "I always think about it," he said. "I want to clean that one up. That was a wild one." That a Miami-area native, who was 13-years-old back then, broke it up was a bit of an ironic twist. Not since Sandy Koufax did it to them in September 1965 have the Cubs been no-hit, and the last no-hitter at Wrigley Field came when Milt Pappas pitched one for Chicago against San Diego in September 1972. Burnett sure made it interesting, though. His curve was as sharp as it's ever been, and he just missed the eighth no-hitter in franchise history. "I thought he had a shot," manager Clint Hurdle said. "He was just so efficient, pinpoint command. He pitched the left-handers so extremely well tonight. Fastball gloveside, his curveball was sharp for strikes, for chase. Great tempo -- 25 out of 31 first-pitch strikes. The pitch count was in a great place. That's one of the best games I've seen pitched ever." Cubs manager Dale Sveum was impressed, too. "He probably threw 60, 65 curveballs," he said. "Even his fastball, he kept it out of the middle of the plate. We hit a few balls hard. A couple balls without the wind might have been home runs, but he pitched a heck of a game." He retired the first 11 batters before walking Anthony Rizzo, and as the game wore on, the sense that something special was happening filled the old ballpark. There was a loud gasp when Alfonso Soriano sent a drive to deep left-center in the seventh that Andrew McCutchen caught, and first baseman Garrett Jones then made a sliding stop on Bryan LaHair's grounder to end the inning. The Cubs got some relief when Cardenas finally broke through, but even that was tempered by the reality that they got shut down. Cardenas faced Burnett in late May and didn't do so well, going 0-for-3 with two errors in a 1-0 loss. "I remember him and seeing how he was working throughout that game," he said. "When I was able to get that hit, it was great but it was very short-lived because we lost 5-0. ... It's definitely sweet to break up the no-hitter here at our place. That's something you don't want to be a part of." While Burnett cruised along, Casey Coleman had a rough night after being recalled from the minors. Pitching in Dempster's place, he lasted just 4 2-3 innings, allowing four runs and seven hits. Walker quickly put the Cubs ahead in the first when he drove a 2-1 pitch to right for a grand slam -- the second of his career and second at Wrigley Field. He also had a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Burnett's performance overshadowed the big news before the game, with Dempster going to the Rangers for two prospects. The Pirates were a busy bunch, too. They acquired former All-Star first baseman Gaby Sanchez from Florida and sent third baseman Casey McGehee to the Yankees for reliever Chad Qualls. Notes: Along with Coleman, the Cubs also recalled Cardenas and C Welington Castillo from Triple-A Iowa before the game. ... GM Jed Hoyer said it might not be long before Josh Vitters is called up from Triple-A. He was batting .298 with 15 homers. ... In the Sanchez deal, Pittsburgh also got minor league pitcher Kyle Kaminska for minor league outfielder Gorkys Hernandez and the extra draft pick for 2013 that the Pirates won in the competitive balance lottery for financially weaker teams. ... The Pirates recalled RHP Daniel McCutchen from Triple-A Indianapolis to take Brad Lincoln's spot in the bullpen. Lincoln was dealt to Toronto for Travis Snider on Monday.

Quick Links

Need to Know: Under the radar issues for the Redskins

Need to Know: Under the radar issues for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 21, 16 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 8
—NFL Combine (3/2) 9
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 55
—NFL Draft (4/27) 65
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 201

Under the radar offseason issues for the Redskins

We know the top line personnel issues for the Redskins this offseason—Kirk Cousins, Jackson and Garçon, D-line, etc. Here are some other issues flying below the radar:

Who’s the backup center? Kory Lichtensteiger retired and John Sullivan is a free agent. That leaves Spencer Long as the only true center under contract. Do they try to bring back Sullivan? Look for one in the draft? The free agent pool is very thin but perhaps a solid backup could get cut.

Guard depth Lichtensteiger also provided some insurance at guard to his absence hits creates a double hit on the depth chart. Right now, the only backup to Shawn Lauvao and Brandon Scherff is Arie Kouandjio. Scherff is durable but Lauvao hasn’t played a 16-game season since 2012. Unless they have more faith in Kouandjio than I suspect they do they will need depth. Perhaps they could spend a mid-round pick for depth this year and then let him compete with Kouandjio for the LG starting job assuming Lauvao moves on after his contract is up  

Need depth at cornerback The Redskins’ top two cornerbacks, Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland, aren’t bad. And maybe Kendall Fuller and Quinton Dunbar are good as the No. 3 and No. 4 CB’s although they perhaps should have some stiff competition. But it’s a long season and injuries happen. They have former Seahawk Tharold Simon and Dashaun Phillips on the roster and they may re-sign Greg Toler. They probably need one or two more veterans or draft picks to compete for the last one or two spots.

More Redskins: NFL Mock Draft 3.0

QB of the future? The most likely scenario in the Cousins saga is that he gets tagged on March 1 and if he does sign a long-term deal it will not be until closer to July 15. That would leave the Redskins in a bit of a tight sport, going through free agency and the draft not knowing if their starter at the most important position on the field will be back in 2018. What about Nate Sudfeld? Would he be ready to at least back up, presumably, Colt McCoy or another veteran? If not, do they need to look for one in the middle of draft, or perhaps earlier? If they are concerned about Cousins’ status and Sudfeld’s ability to develop into a starter this needs to be on the front burner.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

Quick Links

Kings-Pelicans trade puts more options on table for Wizards

Kings-Pelicans trade puts more options on table for Wizards

NEW ORLEANS -- Suddenly, the market has become flooded with names who could/will be on the move which should make for a lot of action going into Thursday afternoon's NBA trade deadline. Despite not having a lot of wiggle room, the Wizards find themselves in a better spot than anticipated.

There are a lot of sellers out there with the Sacramento Kings having waived forward Matt Barnes after trading DeMarcus Cousins.

Former Wizards guard Garrett Temple told CSNmidatlantic.com in a conversation early Monday that Barnes was one of the three best teammates he has ever had in Sacramento, and that includes stops with the Spurs, Rockets, Bucks, Hornets and four full seasons in Washington. Former Wizards Jared Dudley also chimed in during a Twitter exchange about Barnes, who is known for his fiery temper and clashing publicly with Derek Fisher over his ex-wife. 

The Wizards likely will do something to retool their bench now that they're in good position at 34-21 coming out of the All-Star break and in third place in the East. 

They could use another scorer, ideally at shooting guard behind Bradley Beal. Barnes, a 6-7, is a small forward who can play at the stretch position, too.

[RELATED: Kings no longer have Cousins to blame for dysfunction]

He averaged 7.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 54 games for Sacramento this season. He was among the players brought in to help guide Cousins but became expendable when Buddy Hield and Tyreke Evans were acquired in the deal. 

If a team were to claim Barnes during the 48-hour period on waivers, they'd be responsible for the balance of his $6.1 million salary for this season. It was the first year of a two-year deal for $12.5 million.

Barnes isn't the only one who could be on the market as a result of Cousins' trade. New Orleans and Sacramento appear willing to part with assests for draft picks:

Darren Collison, Kings: The point guard is averaging 13.7 points, 4.2 assists and a career-high 42.1% from the three-point line. He's a starter on a reasonable mid-level exception contract of $5.3 million and will become unrestricted this summer. But would he be in addition to Trey Burke or in place of him?

Ben McLemore, Kings: They've been willing to move the 2013 lottery pick for quite some time. A shooting guard, he averages just 6.6 points and shoots 41.2% from the field. The light appears never to have come on and he turned off the Wizards during the pre-draft process. They wanted to arrange a workout but he wasn't organized, willing or able to meet with them. They ended up taking Otto Porter which was expected, but that didn't leave a good impression. And what he's done so far in the league hasn't, either. McLemore is in the final year of his rookie scale contract that pays $4 million and will be restricted if the team that owns his rights this summer make him a qualifying offer. If not, he becomes unrestricted.

Arron Afflalo, Kings: A 6-5 shooting guard, he's likely able to be had, too. At 31, he was part of the veteran group the Kings put around Cousins to no avail. A year ago, Afflalo looked like a possible free-agent steal when he signed a two-year, $25 million deal. He's had a terrible season, averaging just 7.8 points as a starter and shooting just 43%. But defensively, which was supposed to be his strong suit, is where he has declined most. Not the same player he used to be.

Terrence Jones, Pelicans: The 6-9 forward off the bench for New Orleans wants out and its willing to let him leave. His stats are good, 11.5 points and 5.9 rebounds, and he could've been had by the Wizards before this season started. Jones is on a minimum contract. His position isn't the greatest area of need for Washington, but he's better than some pieces currently not playing.  

[RELATED: Wall laughs off Westbrook moment]