Thursday, July 22, 2010

7-21-10: vs. the Brewers

Last night I dreamed I was at PNC Park.

All my enemies were standing along the perimeter of the outfield wall.

And one by one, Pedro Alvarez was knocking them down with monstrous home runs.

Will this be Duke's last start as a Pittsburgh Pirate? If I were Duke I'd sure as hell hope so. In his time in Pittsburgh, he's had a good rookie year followed by a couple abysmal years due to altered mechanics and overworking by a desperate front office, followed by one very good year that made it seem like Kerrigan was going to be the savior of his career, followed by the enigma of disappointment that has characterized this season so far.
If I were him, I'd want to go somewhere else. He could have won thirty games last year with a good team. Be that as it may, however, this start was somewhat disappointing. He had a lot of trouble throwing his changeup for strikes, and gave up three runs through the first three innings.
Much to my massive disappointment, I missed last night's game due to conflict created by music performance, the only other thing I like aside from baseball. It would seem that the Pirates heard my pleas, however, and answered with yet another amazing baseball game.
Fielder takes a pitch to the knee.
And grins!
As some of you might know, Ryan Doumit has been placed on the DL-15 with a concussion as a result of this play. I'd like to share with you the moment that he sustained this injury.
At the time I was too upset about the passed ball to notice the severity of the concussion, but yeah, I can see how most people would have sustained a concussion in this situation. That being said, however, this is just about the worst thing that could happen to Doumit at this point. Not only is no one going to want to trade for him, but he's playing badly enough without having his skills erode over a 15-day DL stint.
After we started scoring massive amounts of runs, Duke managed to grind the game out, finding a way to shut the door despite not having his good stuff and throwing tons of pitches. At the very least, he looked a hell of a lot better than Lincoln.
A very close out to complete a double play. Notice that Jones makes the catch while Weeks is coming down onto the bag.

Pedro Alvarez. The light switch clicks on. How often do you get to see a man lay the groundwork for his legendary status? Actually, fairly frequently in this city. But not when it comes to baseball!
Milledge hits a line drive to the center field warning track. It looked like it could have been a home run, and Lastings' reaction indicates that he felt the same way.

Even his outs are looking good.
Fireworks in the day.

Just look at that. Tears of happiness.

Long thanks Milledge and Alvarez for saving his job.
Duke got pulled in the 6th after giving up two hits. Here we see him grinning cynically at Kratz. It was a poignant moment; despite what he's done this year, I suspect the fans will miss him more than he'll miss Pittsburgh.

Then Brendan Donnelly came out with two men on base and no outs and proceeded to strand them. What a bad ass.
Kratz chases a pop-up.
Lastings' fierce running face.

Recently-acquired long-relief pitcher Sean Gallagher had a strong outing, only giving up one hit through two innings of work.

Fireworks for Pedro's second home run of the game.

Images of success!
And all without this guy. Who would have thunk it.
The big question is to what extent a fan can reasonably be excited at this point. Once again we are in the cycle of a burst of wins leading to "Are the Pirates turning it around?" articles. So far this season, these have been followed by protracted losing streaks.

Will there be another one?

As sure as there are still away games left in the season, there could be. However, hope is a reasonable reaction to these games. In the past, if the Buccos did this it could be written off to some extent because players like Wilson, Sanchez, Laroche, and Mclouth were established in the majors. We knew what they could do, and we knew how the Pirates performed with all of them. Periods of success were outliers as we were so often reminded.

Now, however, this is not the case. No one knows what Walker, Tabata, Alvarez, Kratz and even McCutchen are capable of. Furthermore, even guys like Cedeno and Milledge are young enough to have upside, as evidenced by Garrett Jones. Will we keep hitting like this? No. However, anything close to it can get things done in the major leagues.

Are we seeing the beginning of the future? All signs point to yes.

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