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Dust Off the Jolly Roger: Duke Dazzling in Pirates Win Over Cardinals


I think it was how the game started that just caught my eye and said, “this one’s for you kid.”   Zach Duke struck out Cardinals leadoff man Skip Shumacher with one of the best pitches he has thrown all year.  He then got ahead quickly with an 0 and 2 count on SS Khalil Green and he forced a groundout to 3B Andy LaRoche.

Duke was rolling.

The count was 3-1 to Albert Pujols.  Pirate announcer Steve Blass threw out the whammy…”Duke has only given up two homers this year.”  Seconds later with Iron Mike Tomlin as my witness, Pujols made it 1-0 Cards.

It was a no doubt about it homer.   It would be the only run the Cardinals had on this night, Pujols 13th home run of the season.

Gladly, Duke got it out of the way early.  The Pirates snapped the losing streak with a 7-1 victory in front of 11,000 and change.  Duke sparkled the rest of the way throwing shutout ball with five strikeouts and one walk.

What a difference a year makes, huh?

In the postgame, Cards Manager Tony LaRussa said, “Did you see Duke pitching tonight..”   It’s always good for the Pirates when that comment is made.

Four runs in an inning!

The Bucs trailed 1-0. Timely two out hitting started by Duke, yeh Duke allowed the Bucs to never look back.  With 3B Andy LaRoche aboard in the second inning, Brandon Moss broke an 0-for-15 streak with a single to left. 

(It only took 3rd Boss’ caption to break the streak.  Who would have known?)

Jack Wilson was jammed and fouled out (Jack went 0-for-4 and we are still worried about that thumb despite several nice fielding plays and one not so nice.)  

Then Duke took over.  He stroked a  Todd Wellemeyer heater up the middle for a ‘help yourself’ single which plated a sliding LaRoche. Nyjer Morgan blasted a triple to the right center field warning track that Ryan Ludwick narrowely missed making a fine play on. Ludwick was injured on the play and had to leave the game.  Nate McLouth plated Morgan with a single and the Bucs were officially out of the slump.

Moss went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBI.  He raised his average to .200 on the season.  Mark this down, May 12.The day the Brandon ‘no options left’  Moss turned it around.

Bean Balls Continue

Duke plunked the Cards catcher Yadier Molina to lead off the fourth. He fell behind 2-0 to Duncan and then jammed him as he broke part of the bat and forced a comebacker to Duke. He fielded it cleanly fired a strike to SS Wilson on the glove side to start a double play. Duke then gave up a hit to Greene which fell just in front of left fielder Morgan before striking out Wellemeyer.

Freddy Sanchez was then hit by a Wellemeyer pitch which drew a warning to both benches by umpire Randy Marsh.  The Pirates hit four Cardinals batters in the last two series.

Hitting IS contagious.

1B Adam LaRoche hit number six, a solo shot, well over the 399 sign in the fifth inning. Robinzon Diaz, who had another multi hit game, singled  which got Blaine Boyer up in the Cards pen. 

Moss blasted that gorilla off his back with his first homer at PNC Park this year.  A drive over the Clemente wall in left field that set the final score.

The homer by Moss chased Wellemeyer who reverted back to his April form when the Bucs roughed him up for five runs on 12 hits and a 7-4 victory.

Web Gem.

Pujols drilled a ball to 3B Andy LaRoche to lead off the sixth. It caromed in and out of his glove to Jack Wilson who gunned Pujols. Duke then plunked Rasmus when he turned his back elbow into the pitch.

Although it was obviously an attempt to pitch inside by Duke and Rasmus just turned into the pitch, LaRussa still came out of the dugout to question the umpire. Do you like that?  I imagine he asked why the ump warned both dugouts if he was going to allow the Pirate to continue to hit his players?

But my question to you is this…is that what you like to see in your manager?  JR doesn’t do that.  Is that alright with you?

Not to worry, Duke finished off the Cards with a strikeout.

Other observations:

Who spoke to Sanchez? Two walks in his first three at bats. Followed by an infield single in the bottom of the sixth.

Rumbunter’s favorite catcher, Robinzon Diaz was moved up in the order tonight.  Keep up the good work fella.

Duke (4-3) dropped his ERA to 2.52 on 104 pitches.  67 were strikes and he forced 13 ground ball outs.  He had only five wins all of last season.

Matt Capps had two more walks in his one inning of work, a two strikeout scoreless ninth inning.  He threw 26 pitches.  That is nearly double what he typically throws in an outing.  Easy JR.

Mr. Frank Coonelly answers the ass clowns that said Freddy was benched because of the contract stipulation: 635 plate appearances or 600 plate appearances and an All Star nod makes the $8.5 million contract automatic, less than that and the club has the option to pick it up.  Frank sets the record straight, in a fine way I might add, at this link

A very nice Pirate draft preview is at this link.

One day after hearing the praises of Rumbunter, Chris Bootcheck blew a save for Indy against the EL’s worst team Rochester.  Gorzo (1-1, 3.98ERA) allowed a run in 5.2IP with 4K, 2BB, and a HBP.  Cutch (.261) had two hits, two RBI and stole a base.

Pedro Alvarez (.215) had another hit as the Hillcats notched win number 20 on the season.  The Hillcats are in first place by a game over Potomac.