Sunday, June 20, 2010

6-19-10, 6-20-10: vs. the Cleveland Indians

Way too many of these people were Cleveland fans. They were to leave very disappointed, however. Before leaving straight for the knuckle-whitening log jam of traffic that caused us to miss the top of the first, I was made aware of the fact that The Indians have never won a series here. And despite 12 straight losses preceding this series, this still holds true.
Firstly, Jeff Karstens. Someone owes this guy an apology; he was merely given an invitation to spring training, and yet following the Kevin Hart, Daniel McCutchen and Charlie Morton...set backs, he is for all intents and purposes our fifth starter.
He recorded his second quality start in a row, and fittingly earned the first win a starting pitcher for the Pirates has seen since something like May 18.
One might look at the statistics of his start and think it not so great, but they're just not aware of the nuances of Jeff Karstens' pitching. Karstens doesn't struggle. When he's got it, he'll give a team an ample chance to win. When he loses it, however-and it seemingly has nothing to do with pitch count-he gives up big hits. No second-guessing it; we're talking home runs. It happens all of a sudden (fifth inning in this game) and then you know it's time to take him out. In this regard, Russell might have waited a bit too long to pull him, but whatever. Karstens never gave up the lead.
If there is one Pirates game I would have loved to have attended in the last few years, it would have been Karstens' near-perfect game in Texas last year.

Karstens in the fifth. See that facial expression? He knows when he's done, and that's an admirable quality for an athlete to have.
I've got a signed Karstens baseball and I'm damn proud of it. What a work ethic-he knows he isn't the greatest pitcher ever by any means, but he also knows he is a godsend to a team like the Pirates. Is he always great? No. But when he is, he's awesome. And he can come in and pitch in any situation. What would we have done this season without him? 13-game losing streak at least, for one.
David Huff, Cleveland's starting pitcher. Once great, now less so. I have to thank Cleveland for exhibiting problems similar to the Pirates. It's a nice change of pace to see someone else's starting pitcher struggle. s

Lastings Milledge had a huge 4-rbi night. I'd love to see him start getting those home runs; the sparks of greatness are too frequent to ignore.
Showboating on second base after his third hit. Normally I'm not a fan of showboating, but in Milledge's case I love it. He's an underdog on an underdog team, and his obvious pent-up enthusiasm very much captured the atmosphere of a team finally breaking an epic losing streak.

Here, Milledge hands Pedro Alvarez's baseball bat to the ball boy. This is significant because Alvarez happened to get his first major league hit tonight.
The swing that did it.
I had heard that the sound of Alvarez's bat making contact with a ball was unique. We all heard that sound tonight.
It sounded kind of like hitting a cabbage with a crowbar.
McCutchen had another amazing night, making it safely to base on every at-bat.

It is of course great to watch McCutchen getting hits or running bases, but equally thrilling is watching him work a pitcher from an 0-2 count to a walk. Consummate MLB player.

An amusing sequence. McCutchen slides into third on a triple he'd hit....
Only to realize a little too late that the third baseman had fanned the ball. Almost saw an in-the-park home run.
Walker went one for five, but played more amazing defense, as is his wont.
And he successfully stole second after a botched attempt last night.
He also found himself in a run-down, an event I've been waiting to photograph. He hung in there long enough to allow Jones to advance to second.
A night of many firsts. For a while now, I have been waiting eagerly to photograph a bat broken by a pitch. Not only did Karstens provide me with this...
...But this here is the crown jewel of my efforts so far. Yes, the bat itself is somewhat out of focus. It was a night game and my lens costs under a thousand dollars, however, so all things considered, I am still thrilled to have captured this moment.
Short Stop Donald fouls a ball off his face. He was fine. Here is the split-second before impact.

Relief pitcher Sipp.
DJ Carrasco, one of four pitchers we saw in the sixth inning.
It's hard to say who was the biggest star of this game, but Meek continues to be a god amongst men.
He hasn't allowed a hit in 12 consecutive innings, if memory serves.
After several rough appearances, Octavio Dotel did a hell of a job not allowing any runs. He walked a guy, but Dotel likes to keep it interesting.
After the bitter weeds of failure, we at last taste the oh-so-sweet fruits of victory.

Crosby once again started as short stop while Cedeno remained in the time-out chair following emotional outbursts of an undisclosed nature.
Random photo.
And shots of success!
Shots of success!
Shots of success! Also, the Phillies apparently continue to struggle.
Shots of success! Sucked to be a Cubs fan tonight, as well.

I have no photos of the Sunday game because it was father's day and I thought I'd take a reprieve so as to watch the game with my dad like normal people do. Also, I forgot the camera battery in the car. So here are my thoughts:

-Brad Lincoln showed definite signs of improvement today. 3 earned runs through six innings, with his efficiency and command improving as the game went on. It took him about sixty pitches to get through the first three innings, and a little more than twenty to get through the next three. Lincoln struggled at AAA at first, so I am very pleased to see him adjusting at the major league level.

-Still no Cedeno, and the first official report from the team confirming his 'emotional problems'. He really loved that pierogi dude, I guess.

-Milledge was unable to get a hit against a right-handed pitcher, which continues an unfortunate trend of his. However, he got a successful bunt that advanced a runner who would eventually score off of Alvarez's sacrifice fly, and as such continues to contribute offensively. That home run is coming, I can feel it.

-Brendan Donnelly was amazing in relief. No outs, runners on second and third, and he manages to preserve the 3-3 tie. Beautiful stuff.

-Octavio Dotel got two strike-outs in his second consecutive awesome closing appearance. If ever there was a man who thrives in stressful circumstances, it's Dotel. When the tension is thick enough to cut with a knife, he uses it to butter his toast. I don't care if that's hyperbole, it was exciting, Goddamn it.

Perfect day.

No comments:

Post a Comment