Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Don't Care if I Never Get Back? Pirates Win in Epic Fashion

As I write this, it is 1:30 pm on the day after the Pirates' 4-3 win over the Colorado Rockies, and I am still very tired. Every couple words or so, I find myself glancing at the clock on the top right corner of my laptop screen, eagerly anticipating 2 p.m. and the possibility of going back to sleep for an hour or so.

I can only imagine how the players feel right about now. Superior athletic conditioning or no, when a game lasts five and a half bone-chilling April evening hours, it takes something out of you.

Fortunately, whatever is taken out of you is in this case replaced with a degree of restored hope in the 2011 Pirates, especially after Thursday's grueling loss.

Last night's game had one huge negative: Ross Ohlendorf appears to be injured once again, and the injury is apparently very similar to the one that ended his 2010 season early. Until recently, Ohlendorf's story was about a gifted-yet-star-crossed pitcher whose ascension was long overdue. Another injury and early-season trip to the DL15, however, and that story will begin to change.

In Ohlendorf's stead, however, Neil Huntington had an opportunity to show us just how good he truly is at cobbling together amazing bullpens year after year. 11.1 consecutive scoreless innings in hand-numbing weather is something to be proud of. Also: Karstens is back, and just as handy as ever.

As I write this, I cannot help but acknowledge how easily I could be writing a miserable post about the second Pirates loss at home to start the season and how it managed to be even more disappointing than the home opener. At times last night, it looked like this was an inevitability. However, Jose Tabata stepped up and became the hero of the night, and gifted us all with a Saturday morning full of good baseball vibes. This is significant: only too often has this team failed to produce that hero in situations comparable to last night's. I don't know how much things have changed for the Pirates at this point, but it is at the very least undeniable that changes are taking place: we now have quite a few starting players who can reasonably be replied upon to be the hero of a game, and they are only going to get better at doing so.

Jaramillo was a pleasure to watch as last night's starting catcher. His defensive aggressiveness was a nice change of pace. Here we see him trying to pick off a baserunner.
Not a happy look.

How many games would we have lost last season without this guy? Being a long relief pitcher for the Pirates is a dirty job, but Karstens is the one to do it.

Pedro after catching a pop up to the edge of the left field stands.

Jose Veras apparently roars as the stuff of pitching excellence flows through his veins.
I second this gesture, Veras.
A still from Joel Hanrahan's new closer video. Slipknot thankfully left to the imagination.
Steve Pearce heads to the dugout after yet another successful pinch hit. This guy deserves a start.
Chris Resop, who has recently struggled, pitched three redeeming innings. It was not pretty; he got himself into multiple jams, but he also managed to get out of them.
The extremely rare 14th Inning Stretch.
Thanks to Jose Tabata for grinding out a win in a game that had Andrew McCutchen going hitless.

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