With all of the time that we've spent talking about Francisco Liriano and Jeff Locke and Gerrit Cole this year, there's something that's gotten lost in the mix: some days, AJ Burnett takes the mound with his best stuff, and when that happens the other team doesn't stand a chance. Burnett was brilliant this afternoon, tossing nine easy innings against the Rockies, striking out nine, walking one, and only allowing one run on seven hits. He only needed 110 pitches for the complete game, and he threw 83 of those 110 pitches for strikes.
By comparison, Juan Nicasio threw 103 pitches in 4 1/3 innings. The Pirates threatened against him all afternoon, but couldn't quite break out for a big inning. They only needed one pitch post-Nicasio to do that; Manuel Corpas came in to face Russell Martin after Nicasio gave up a Pedro Alvarez single to put two runners on in the fifth and Martin hit Corpas's first pitch into the bleachers in left field for a three-run homer and a 5-0 lead.
What's really striking about these two wins to close out the Rockies' series is just how easy they've looked. Burnett and Liriano both dominated, the offense put together enough runs, and the Pirates won both games without really even breaking a sweat. This is how good teams are supposed to beat bad teams.