Thursday, June 30, 2011

Game 80 Recap - Pirates 6, Blue Jays 2




The Pirates used another great outing from Jeff Karstens to win their first interleague road series since defeating the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in 2003 with a 6-2 win at the Rogers Centre.

Andrew McCutchen got the Pirates off to a quick start in the first inning when he drove home Alex Presley with a ground out to third base. Presley did his job by tripling to open the game to set up the run.

Presley then used a nice at bat to drive home Josh Harrison after he doubled to lead off the fifth inning. Presley went the other way to fairly deep left field to earn the sacrifice fly and give the Pirates a two run lead.

Karstens was cruising for the Pirates and had no trouble with any Blue Jays hitter until the fifth inning when he made two bad pitches which resulted in a tie game. With one out he left a pitch up in the zone and J.P. Arencibia deposited the pitch into the left centerfield seats and two batters later Yunel Escobar took Karstens deep to tie the game.

The Pirates wasted no time getting back on the board thanks to some big time help from the Blue Jays defense. Lyle Overbay popped a pitch up to lead off the inning and Jose Bautista and Corey Patterson couldn’t figure out who wanted to catch it so that was bad enough for Toronto but then Escobar threw the ball away trying to get Overbay out at second which let him move to third. Ronny Cedeno they doubled home Overbay and designated hitter Brandon Wood cleared the bases with a two run homer.

Andrew McCutchen closed out the scoring by leading off the seventh inning with a double and scored on a Matt Diaz single.

Thoughts:

-I honestly have no idea how Jeff Karstens does it. He throws a high 80’s fast ball and a low 70’s curveball and just hits spots. He gets ground balls and when he gives up home runs he only gives up solo shots. That is how. He makes it look so easy but I just don’t get how he just hasn’t gotten raked more often. I don’t care, it is a lot of fun to watch. I talked about giving up solo home runs and to date Karstens has given up 16 home runs and 15 of them have been solo shots. He doesn’t get into a ton of trouble and is able to work out of jams. In the month of June Karstens is now 3-0 with a 1.52 ERA. Man.

-I know I have openly bashed Diaz on here before but I think he might be starting to turn it around. He has had a really nice month of June with a triple slash line of .309/.345/.364 and seems to finally be getting comfortable hitting against lefties and if he does he will be a nice bench player to have and will finally be able to fill that platoon role that he was brought here to do. He isn’t going to give you much power but I think the offense will take what it can get.

-The Pirates offense got back into the grove tonight after not showing up the night before. They collected nine hits and those hits were by eight different players with Diaz being the only guy with multiple hits. The Pirates also collected seven extra base hits tonight and tied a season high with five doubles. Not too bad.

-The Pirates were 16-11 in the month of June and are now just two games out of first place in the National League Central heading into July. Just unreal what has been happening this year for the Pirates. At the beginning of the year this team was written off and now they are in the hunt, at the halfway point of the season, for the NL Central crown. Look, I know it probably still is a long shot for them to win the NL Central and challenge for the division but why can’t we hope for something great. Nothing says that Pedro Alvarez can’t come back and mash the ball like he did down the stretch last year or that Alex Presley and Chase d’Arnaud can’t continue to play well at the top of the lineup or that the pitching staff can’t still continue to be lights out. Why be a fan if you can’t dream? It is great to know that we may have something to dream about, at least at the half way point.

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