Friday, June 3, 2011

Game 56 Recap: Pirates 2, Phillies 1 (12 innings)




That was a great baseball game. I said it during the game that I will take a 3-2, 2-1, pitcher dual over a game that is 10-9 any day of the week. I can watch teams play good defense and pitch well all the time. For some fans they just have to see action and have to see runs being scored, but that just isn’t something that I HAVE to see.

Tonight was one of my type of games. Cole Hamels and Jeff Karstens were as good as it gets when they were in the ball game and both pens were equally as good until the Pirates finally broke through in the 12th (!) inning for a pretty nice win.

Coming into the game it was pretty well documented that the Pirates were good at beating bad teams but struggled beating some of the good teams. Tonight they beat one of those good teams (second best record in all of baseball) and did so with little to no offense to speak of.

The Phils got onto the board in the top half of the sixth inning when Chase Utley singled in Jimmy Rollins with two outs. It actually could have been a lot worse for the Pirates but Karstens got a huge play from Josh Harrison. The Phils got the first two runners on board with no outs. Karstens worked a full count to Placido Polanco who laced a ball to Harrison and quickly turned it into a double play when he caught Hamels (who singled to open the inning) off second base.

Rollins then stole second (he looked out but was called safe) and then scored on the Utley single. Whatever.

The Pirates struck quickly in their half of the sixth. Ronny Cedeno earned a four pitch leadoff walk and then moved to second on a Karstens sacrifice bunt. He moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored when Jose Tabata took the first pitch he saw to deep center field to tie the game.

Both pens were very effective until the 12th. With two outs Xavier Paul singled to center with two outs then stole second. Jose Tabata singled to right field and scored Paul to start the celebration. The ball actually looked like it could have been knocked down by Utley but it took a wicked bounce. Tough bounce for the Phils, good one for the Pirates.

Thoughts:

-This was a really nice win for the Pirates. Not because they beat a team from Philadelphia and not because they won in front of a packed house, or even because they won in extra innings. This was nice because this happened a day after they blew a seven run lead to the Mets. One of my coaches once told me that it isn’t what happens to you, it’s how you respond to what happens to you. For the Pirates to come out tonight and hold on after Cole Hamels had his way with the Pirates lineup says a lot about the mentality of this team.

-The offense was bad. One had one hit of Hamels through eight innings and they only had five hits in 12 innings of baseball. Andrew McCutchen played a nice game with two hits and Jose Tabata drove in both runs so the top of the order did decent but everyone else was invisible. Lyle Overbay and Matt Diaz were once again underwhelming at best and nobody else was a threat. Not something I should be surprised at but I could use more consistency.

-That being said Cole Hamels was unreal tonight. His changeup was unhittable and you can see why people were so high on this rotation at the beginning of the season. This wasn’t even supposed to be their top guy and he is pretty dominant.

-Jeff Karstens was once again great on the bump tonight. He went seven innings and only gave up four hits and the loan run. Usually Jeff can get through five innings without any problems but he really got out of some jams and never blew up like he has been known to do. Karstens has been great for the team all year and excels at his role and is probably the main reason the Pirates won tonight.

Pirates back at it tomorrow night against the Phils. Chuck Mo on the bump.


Kristy was able to throw up a quick Tabata interview on YouTube. Make sure you follow her on Twitter. She does great work.



and of Jeff Karstens

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