Monday, July 5, 2010

7-4-10 Vs. The Phillies: I Heart Jeff Karstens

You'll notice there are no photos from Saturday's loss to the Phillies so far. They're coming; I'm saving them for the coming away games against the Astros. Is it inaccurate reporting? Yes. But you know what? I don't like those photos. They're depressing. We beat the Phillies on the 4th of July to win the 4-game series in easily the best game I've seen the Pirates play thus far this year, so to heck with it, I'm focusing on that.
Here we see Evan Meek, a man who deserves to play on the All-Stars team even if the Pirates didn't have to send one representative. Many people think McCutchen should have gone, but he's been slumping recently. Besides, he's a young guy and an every-day player; he's going to make it to his fair share of All-Star games.
Jeff Karstens: he's not the greatest pitcher who ever lived and when he gets tired he gives up way too many homers, but that's because he fears no man and will pitch to anybody. He is no head case; he knows what he can do, he knows what he can't do, and as of this season he has become remarkably consistent.
Last year I found Karstens to be somewhat frustrating. He had a great string of long relief appearances followed by a bad slump that resulted in a demotion. Since then I've heard him speak about the importance of maintaining his stamina, and I think this has been his main issue both in games and in seasons. When his arm is well-rested, Jeff Karstens can go up against the best hitters in the league. Once he gets tired, however, his pitches become immensely hittable. However, there's no grey area; he either gets outs or gives up home runs and then you know it's time to go to the bullpen.
Karstens did not start well in this game. The Phillies were clearly energized after last night's huge win, and Karstens gave up four earned runs through the first three innings. It was 91 degrees out and I had become resigned to another loss.
Then something awesome happened, however: Karstens shut the door.
Karstens pitched three scoreless innings before giving up his "That's All For Today" solo home run in the 7th. Once again, he gave this team a chance to win. He didn't let the Phillies bats get to him, even though it seemed like they were hitting everything he had at first. We could use more pitchers with that kind of mentality. Gritty? Hell yeah.

Walker crosses home base. Nice to have you back, Neil.
Ibanez gets a hit. This is a scary team to face at any point, but especially when they're slumping; when the Phillies flick the switch, the light is blinding.
Karstens shortly before settling down and quieting the Phillies bats.
Doumit reacts to his second looking strikeout of the game.
Pedro Alvarez is, of course, another huge hero from this game. Getting his second home run in as many games kick-started the Pirates bats and we went on to find ourselves on the right side of a six-run inning for once.
I even got another broken bat photo! It didn't shatter, but whatever.

And then there's Evan Meek, who made yet another quality appearance.
Rollins gets caught in a run-down between first and second.

Alvarez rounds third after his home run.
Even Ryan Church got a big hit. I must admit I groan when I see him appearing on lineups, and his awful performance last night did nothing to ingratiate himself in my mind, but he got it done today big time. Another Ryan Church strikeout could have killed this rally, but he was able to deliver.
Tabata successfully steals second. It was a very close call, however; you'll notice that he is off the bag in this photo. Fortunately, so is the second baseman. Tabata managed to get on the bag before the tag.
Walker gets a walk.
Milledge gets robbed of a hit by a broken bat.
Octavio Dotel got his nineteenth save today. He has been fantastic, and the applause he gets when he comes out is great to hear.
Look at that score. When you see something like that, you know that game's got a story.
Octavio fools a batter.
And celebrates.

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