Saturday, June 21, 2008

Game 74: Pirates 1 Blue Jays 0

While watching last night's game, all I could really think to myself was "Man, I love these extra inning pitchers' duels." I don't know many people that would be excited to be at a 0-0 game in the twelfth inning (in fact, I know some people that were at last night's game that were not excited to be there, judging by the volume of text messages I received.

Of course, in order to be in a 0-0 game in the 12th inning, you need some help. While we've spent all year wishing for Ian Snell and Tom Gorzelanny to pitch themselves into shape, I think Zach Duke might be the one that's actually doing it. After a start in which he had a decent ERA, but not really the peripherals to back it up (in terms of WHIP and strikeouts). Since the start of May, he's got a 3.27 ERA with a 1.301 WHIP, and while his strikeouts/9 in that span is still only 3.83, he struck out four last night and five two starts ago. He's certainly not ever going to be a world-beater or even an ace, but he's definitely been a pretty decent starting pitcher this year and he seems to be getting better as the year wears on, in a rare case of the peripherals catching up to the mainstream statistics, instead of things happening the other way around.

Last night Duke was greatly helped by Doug Mientkiewicz's D at third base and could've gotten the win if Tony Beasley didn't kill a rally by sending Dougie flying into an out at the plate on a shallow fly ball to Alex Rios. Well, that and Nyjer Morgan sending a line drive off of Roy Halladay's glove (or maybe head) with the bases loaded, only to see it ricochet right to Scott Rolen for the third out of the inning. Talk about improbable. Nyjer Morgan hits the ball on the screws in a tie game with the bases loaded, only to see it bounce off of the pitcher's dome and right into the third baseman's glove. But hey, at least we still won.