Friday, July 15, 2011

First. Place. - Pirates 4, Astros 0

In the past I would look at the probable pitchers for the upcoming series and kind of think to myself how the series was going to go. Usually it was a bunch of feelings like if Maholm was going to have a “good night” the Pirates had a chance or if Kip Wells was on a hot streak the Pirates would probably win. Over the past couple of seasons when I saw Jeff Karstens on the bump I thought that he might give up four innings of solid work but the pen was going to have to really buckle down to maybe even have a chance to win. Not anymore.

Karstens pitched what might have been the most efficient game of the season for any pitcher in major league baseball as he threw a complete game shutout with only 83 pitches. 83 pitches for a nine inning baseball game. Just unreal command and luck for this to happen. He was masterful in just carving up the Astros. In fact let’s not act like this is some miracle that Jeff pitched well, he has been doing it all season.

Over the last two starts Karstens has pitched 16 innings and allowed only one run (!), struck out five, walked none (!) and threw 132 of his 173 total pitches for strikes (!). Those are ridiculous numbers no matter who you are. Sure, the numbers suggest that Karstens is going to regress during the second half of the season but who cares right now. He is throwing great innings and locating his pitches, in the strike zone, better than anyone in the league. Is he getting lucky? Sure he is, but I would rather be lucky than good.

Before I get into much else this win, coupled with losses by the Cardinals and Brewers put the Pittsburgh Pirates in first place after 91 games. No, I am not kidding you. First. Place.

Believe me now? I don’t know when the last time this was or even how old I was when this happened but I don’t care. It is almost a numb feeling for me as I sit here and write out this I really can’t believe that last year this franchise won 57 games and here we sit at the 91 game mark and the Pirates are in a tie for first place with the St. Louis Cardinals. The season is far from over and there is a ton of ball to be played against some good competition, but have a beer and a cigar for this win. You deserve it at a Pirates fan.

Aside from the Astros basically rolling over in this game and Jeff Karstens pretty much doing whatever he wanted there wasn’t much to this game. The Pirates got on Houston starter Brett Myers and forced him to throw a ton of pitches and bounced him out after six innings of work as he was tagged with three runs on 111 pitches.

Two of those runs were scored on an Andrew McCutchen triple that plated Chase d’Arnaud (2 hits) and Alex Presley (hit, 2 runs scored). Neil Walker drove in the first run of the game when he singled home Presley.

The Pirates struck out 14 times on the night (!) but it doesn’t much matter when Karstens is dealing like he was. The Bucs also swiped three bases and turned two double plays.

Again this night was all about Jeff Karstens. After the game he ranked third in the National League in ERA with a 2.34 mark. He does it by hitting his spots and not putting people on base but it is truly remarkable what he has done so far this season. Like I said before, he will probably regress this season but that doesn’t take anything away from the first half and the night he had tonight. Not too many times will you see a pitcher throw less than 90 pitches in a complete game. Just really something special.

Yes, the Pittsburgh Pirates are in first place and we are seeing more and more that this can be a great baseball town and they are ready to embrace this Pirates team right now.

Another game tomorrow against the Astros. Stay the course.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not a Pirates, but I am a baseball fan. I love that they're in first place, and even if they don't win the division, just being in the race in September would be great. I just hope the starting pitching will hold up. So far this season, they improved more than any other team. I guess I'll be an honorary fan this season