FINALLY! The Pirates break a 12 game losing streak with a great game tonight and a win over the Cleveland Indians. I would say beating Cleveland is something that is unusual for Pittsburgh teams, but then I would be lying. Jeff Karstens had a nice outing and the pen held the fort for the Pirates first time since June 1 against the Cubs.
It was a pretty big day at PNC Park. The 1960 World Series team was honored before the game and let me tell you, it was very, very awesome to watch. They talked about, and acknowledged every player on the team. When they got to Roberto Clemente he got a standing ovation from the capacity crowd and it was very touching. His wife, Vera was standing in her husbands place and she was in tears because of the standing ovation that the Pirates faithful were giving her late husband. 100% deserving of the ovation and it was truly touching to see.
Karstens did his job. He went 5.1 innings and gave up four runs, three on one swing in the sixth inning. It didn’t look good to start as Jeff gave up hits to the first two hitters but then shut the door and only giving up one run when it could have been much worse. The pitch count wasn’t terrible for Karstens, only throwing 68 pitches.
I have been pretty impress with Karstens this year as he just knows his role and does his job. Knows he is a back end guy and just needs to throw strikes and get outs, and that is exactly what he does. The only problem with Karstens is that when it goes bad, it goes real bad, fast. The Pirates held a 5-1 lead going into the sixth inning but a three run bomb off the foul pole by Russell Branyan pulled the game to only one run. That was it for JR as he ended up using four pitchers in the sixth inning ending with Evan Meek getting Travis Hafner to ground back to himself to leave the bases loaded.
Lastings Milledge knows that he is playing for a spot on this team and you can tell. Milledge was a straight beast tonight, knocking in four runs and coming a home run shy of a cycle. Coming into the game he was third in the NL in batting average with runners in scoring position and he continued that tonight. I have no idea why Ryan Church might play over Milledge but it should never happen. Milledge is part of this evaluation year and he needs to be on the field as much as possible.
Talk about being big time, look no further than Andrew McCutchen. He displayed how special of a player he was in the first inning. With two outs, standing on second base he did something that not many players can do. Milledge hit a chopper to shortstop and beat out the throw with a head first slide at first base and McCutchen rounded third and scored, easily, on the play. That is right, McCutchen scored from second base on an infield single. I would be very surprised if anyone else in the major leagues can do that. He has speed like most players only dream of. Doesn’t hurt that he also walked three times and scored three runs. Not too bad no matter where you hit in the order. McCutchen also tripled in the eighth. He went shopping in the right field gap and might have got to third base in about one second. Might be the fastest player in baseball. Freakishly fast.
Pedro also had a very productive day today. He gathered his first major league hit with a ground rule double in his third at bat. Pedro got the standing ovation as soon as he hit second base and showed very little emotion during the whole thing, which shows what kind of player he is, locked in. Hopefully this will settle him down and let him start hitting back up the box like I talked about two nights ago.
All in all the Pirates finally put together a good game. They hit, they fielded, they ran the bases and they pitched effectively. We have seen parts of this going on in the 12 game losing streak, but we never saw any combination of them in the same game. It was very refreshing to see and made me very happy since I called this win about five hours before the game. Love being right.