Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Game 86 Recap - Pirates 5, Astros 1

Jeff Karstens was great again (ho hum) and the offense was good again and the Pirates pulled into sole possession of second place in the NL Central after a 5-1 win over the Houston Astros on Tuesday. Zach Duke (former Buc) beat the Brewers (the only way the Pirates can beat the Brewers) to push them to third place and give the Pirates a half game lead on the Crew for second place as they still sit 1.5 games back of the top spot with four games left till the break.

Last season the Pirates didn’t get their 45th win until September 3rd and this year they got it almost two months earlier. Love it.

The Pirates gathered nine hits by only four different players last night as no player had just a single hit. Matt Diaz led the party, from the three hole nonetheless, with three hits and Neil Walker, Lyle Overbay and Brandon Wood all had two hits each.

I have been pretty hard on Diaz, Wood and Overbay throughout parts of the season, with just cause, but they have played really well in the past month. It seems almost every night the bottom of the lineup is collected multiple hits from hitters and they are scoring runs. Today it was Brandon Wood who accounted for the first three Pirates runs as he took a second inning Wandy Rodriguez pitch 413 feet to the right centerfield seats for a two run shot and then followed up with an RBI single in the fourth inning.

Jeff Karstens was magical again last night. He went 7.0+ innings of work for his seventh win as he gave up only seven hits and a lone run while walking nobody. The lone run came on a Clint Barmes solo home run in the fifth inning but isn’t that really the story of Jeff Karstens? He has given up 17 home runs this season and 16 of them are solo home runs. I mean if you are going to give them up this is the way you want to give them up. After that he cruised and even threw in a suicide squeeze to score Overbay in the sixth inning. He just does it all and like I said before he deserves some All-Star game snub consideration. He lowered his ERA to 2.55, fifth best in the National League, and has only walked 18 batters all season, second best in the NL among qualified pitchers.

I talked about it before, but Matt Diaz is starting to turn it on. He has been great against lefties this past month and even when he is facing righties he is smacking the ball around. In the past 30 days Diaz is hitting .327/.351/.400 and has a wRC+ of 106. I was wondering if he was going to be a guy that wasn’t going to be with the team much longer, but forget that.

Overbay is in the same situation, in the last seven days he has went for a .295/.340/.409 tear. He is defiantly on the hot seat to not be with this club and if that is what it takes to get a fire lit then so be it, but he is performing right now which is a big reason this team is winning.

The Pirates are now alone in second place. Take that in. You deserve it.

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