Zach Duke Sinks Diamondbacks to Get Second Win of the Season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-3 behind a strong outing from starter Zach Duke.   The Bucs were able to chase Dan Haren after 6.2 innings.  Haren gave up nine hits, six runs, five earned.  He walked two and struck out nine. But Duke (2-0) stole the game with his sinker. 

We always enjoy watching the better pitcher lose.  Especially Haren, who allowed five earned runs just once last season and that was against the Phillies.  So obviously, the Pirates are this years’ Phillies.  Let’s enjoy it.

The Pirates moved Duke up in the rotation and bumped Daniel McCutchen to start tomorrow.  Duke made the decision maker look like a genius.  He served up 14 groundballs and just two fly balls. 

Duke went seven innings which the Pirates needed despereately.  He threw 99 pitches and allowed four hits.  Duke walked two and struck out two.  He didn’t exactly fill up the zone throwing just 56 strikes.   However, his Pirates defense assisted his efforts and got two inning ending double plays. 

It’s never overpowering with Duke.  Just surprising.  He is a tried and true pitch to contact starter and often times fans wonder how he does it.  Was it the eleven percent humidity in the desert?  Don’t think so.  On this night it was the sinker.  And the change which he kept down in the zone.  The Snakes pounded most of Dukes’ offerings into the ground and the defense gloved it.    Easy stuff.

Duke dropped his ERA to 3.00.  He gave up some liners right at Pirate fielders, but only one hit through four innings.   Mark Reynolds hit a bomb off Duke in the seventh inning on the one pitch we saw that he got up in the zone.  It  scared the hell out of us.  But also the two ladies having dinner in front of the restaurant on the second level.  It was a bomb.  470 feet?

Iwamura lead off the game by hitting a single off Harens’ first pitch and was driven in by new three hitter Lastings Milledge

Jeff Clement hit a flat splitter 390 feet for a homer to right field leading off the second inning.  It was a rocket. 

The Bucs got three more runs in the fourth inning as LaRoche scored on an RBI double to the fence by Ronny Cedeno.  Aki followed with a towering 387 foot HR on a two-two count. It was Akis’ first two RBI of the year.  Akis’ first homer as a Pirate.

In the top of the seventh, Cutch broke an 0-for-11 stretch with a single.  He then stole second base, his second of the season, and was moved to third by Lastings Milledge who grounded out to second base.  Milledge was clapping for himself.  He is doing the right thing in the right situations.  God, I trust that continues.  

Garrett Jones hit a tapper to second base and Kelly Johnson made a very strange scooping type play ala a Sunday softball player would and the ball shot straight out of his glove.  The error allowed Cutch to sprint home to score the Pirates sixth run.

The 8th inning was awful for  Jack TaschnerBrendan Donnelly was scary.  Cutch skied a throw to Aki’s right.  Clement didn’t expect the throw and failed to provide backup.  Yeh, it was tense.  Five full counts.  Two batters were walked.  Jones had an error to go along with the one Cutch had.   An extra base hit, but just one run given up.  Yeh, we can’t add it up either.

But Donnelly tightened up and got Upton to strikeout which I always enjoy.  Javier Lopez got 1B LaRoche, who is batting .158, to strikeout with some serious off speed stuff.  Whew.

Octavio Dotel in the ninth was impressive.  An entirely different feeling than the Pirates eighth inning.  Dotel got the first two strikes on Reynolds and then mixed in an 82 mph slider before Clement snared a towering ball in foul territory.  Clement looked like he was doing a reverse limbo.

Oct then got two quick strikes on Snyder as well, before he flew out on an another 95 mile per hour heater. Dotel stomped the Snakes and got the last out with a strikeout.  It was Dotel’s first save of the season.

Can we expect Dotel to fire strikes like that all season?  I don’t.  But feel free to surprise me Oct.

Aki had a nice day.  He had a first pitch single which stretched his solid plate appearances to five.  He scored on an RBI single by Lastings Milledge.   He just missed a HR later in the game when it carried to the right of the foul pole.  Later in the game, he did strike out which stranded two runners, but his second strike out in the ninth was shit.  He took off for first base and the umpire made him pay when he rung him up.

Doumit struck out four times.  He looks awful from the left side.  Will he play tomorrow?  I look forward to finding out.  Daniel McCutchen will surely need him.  A win by the Bucs would be a nice start to the road trip.

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Tags: Aki Iwamura Brendan Donnelly Jeff Clement Lastings Milledge Octavio Dotel Zach Duke