The first half of double-headers are always a little strange. When AJ Burnett got into a bases-loaded/no out jam in the third inning, my first concern was about the bullpen and now about Burnett blowing the 1-0 lead he'd been handed by Pedro Alvarez's first inning double. Burnett escaped the jam with only one run scored, though, and he cruised through the next five innings without breaking a sweat. The Pirates needed a long start from Burnett, and he gave them seven strong innings, striking out nine, and only allowing three hits and three walks.
The problem is that Lance Lynn was just as good as Burnett, completely shutting the Pirates down after their run in the first inning. After worrying about wearing out the bullpen early on, the Pirates needed four relievers anyway. Justin Wilson and Mark Melancon were their usual good selves, while Bryan Morris and Vin Mazzaro were awfully shaky. The defense bailed Morris out in the tenth, though, and Mazzaro somehow avoided trouble despite an inability to throw strikes in the 11th. The Pirates finally broke through with a single by Alex Presley in the 11th.
The first half a double-header is always a big win, but after using four relievers and knowing that Brandon Cumpton is waiting in the nightcap, winning this one felt like an even bigger deal. PNC Park was electric all afternoon; I had the early part of the game on the radio and I could hear the crowd buzzing every time Burnett got to two strikes. Later in the game, you could practically hear everyone standing up through the computer screen every time the offense threatened. I don't know what else to say; this really is something else.
The second game just started at slightly after 8:30 with Brandon Cumpton and Tyler Lyons on the mound. Taking the first three games of this five-game set would be a pretty special feat.