Pirates 2, Diamondbacks 0 - Imperfect Game

Record: 59-55. Pace: 84-78. Change on last season: -4

An hour later than intended, I thought I'd put this up as a placeholder for Jim and a thread for us to follow the Dodgers/Cardinals game tonight if anyone was so inclined. For the interested, it's 3-3 in the 4th.

For those who can't wait for Jim's recap, the main points of today's game are:

  • Jeff Karstens' second start of the season was almost perfect, literally, retiring 23 batters before Chris Young laced a double down the left field line. He completed the game with a 2-hit shutout.
  • Randy Johnson was similarly awesome for a majority of the game. He allowed a home run to Freddy Sanchez in the 4th and another run scored in the 8th. His 7th inning was particularly made of nice angry RJ strike-throwing goodness.
Up next: 4-game series with Atlanta, starting tomorrow.

Now, Jim's un-condensed version. :-)

S'funny how things go. The first game of the series, we saw the worst pitching display at Chase in a very long time, with a procession of hurlers, apparently incapable of finding the strike-zone if the world's largest funnel had been placed between the mound and home-plate. But today, the unheralded Karstens, with ten career starts, comes within four batters of becoming the least experienced pitcher ever to throw a perfect game. Is it treacherous to admit that I was, to a certain extent, rooting for him over the final couple of frames?

It was not to be, however, with Chris Young ending the bid with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, delivering a clean double down the left-field line. He also walked Augie Ojeda to open the ninth, and allowed a two-out single there to Stephen Drew. Still, a two-hit, complete-game shutout is nothing to be sneezed at, especially when he got as many hits as the entire Arizona line-up. Since coming to Pittsburgh in the trade with the Yankees for Xavier Nady, Karstens has thrown nothing but zeroes, over fifteen consecutive innings, against the leaders of the NL Central and NL West. Not bad for someone who came into the year with a career ERA of 5.65. The rush to snap him up in your fantasy baseball league starts here. :-)

Despite getting tagged with the loss, Randy - the last man with a perfect game - didn't pitch badly, giving up two runs and pitching into the eighth inning: he probably wasn't helped by Melvin throwing him out once again, Johnson despite already being at a hundred pitches by the end of the seventh. That allowed Doug Mientkiewicz to win the day, driving in a run with a double: as you may recall, there was some argy-bargy earlier on between those two. There wasn't much carry-over today, much though some would have liked to see a fastball "accidentally" get away from the Big Unit.

The closest to a confrontation was Johnson pointedly stepping off the mound, when the Polish God of Scrabble was all ready to hit. Though the Pirates' hitter was full of praise for Johnson after the game this afternoon, saying: "That's the best stuff I think he's had in four or five years. His ball had some life to it. His slider was hidden very well. He was throwing it into me and away and when he does that, he's tough. There's a reason why he's won starts in a row. That's a totally different guy than what we saw [in Pittsburgh]." Certainly a radical change from his earlier comments of, "He's been out of the game for three years in my mind... That just shows me how mentally weak he is... He doesn't have intimidating stuff anymore."

The Big Unit scattered seven hits over 7.1 innings, with the only other damage a solo homer to Sanchez in the fourth, that broke a scoreless tie. He struck out seven and, for the third straight day, our starter didn't walk anyone, giving them a K:BB ratio of 19:0 for this series. Some concerns - shall we say - were expressed when Qualls came in with men on second and third and one out in the eighth, but he stopped both men from scoring, and Juan Cruz had a much more confident outing this time around, his second back off the DL. He pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two of the three hitters he faced.

The hitters, needless to say, had hardly any success, though a number of ball were hit hard and deep to the outfield. That included two of the first three batters, and you'd have got long odds at that point for the starter still being there in the eighth, never mind still throwing a perfect game. Our best - almost only - chance of breaking the shutout up came when Ojeda walked to lead off the ninth. However, Tony Clark promptly grounded straight into his fourth double-play in 33 at-bats [and that's discounting a couple of others which should have been turned by the opposition]. He only has four hits in that time, and since those 33 at-bats have resulted in 31 outs, I guess this means Clark has a "real" batting average of .061... Drew then got our second hit, before Hudson grounded out to end the game.

[Click to enlarge, in new window]
Master of his domain: Augie Ojeda, +9.4%
God-emperor of suck: Tony Clark, -17.5%
Dishonorable mentions: Hudson, -12.1%; Romero, -12.0%; Tracy, -10.4%

An active Gameday Thread, with a special shout-out to ZonaBacks10, who made his debut today, though it hardly turned out to be auspicious! If we get shut-out again tomorrow, the patented SnakePit IP Address Air-Strike Co-ordinator will be booted up... :-) Also present were snakecharmer, DbacksSkins, Zephon, kishi, Wimb, soco, AJforAZ, hotclaws, utahdbacksfan, unnamedDBacksfan, SongBird, luckycc, Muu, AZSEAfan, britdback, emilylovesthedbacks, bcloirao, NewJackCity, nihil67, srdmad, dahlian, frienetic, Red Reign, dstorm, AZWILDCATS and Scrbl. Just a reminder about the no F-bombs policy too, which some people seem...keen to test, shall we say. Use them, and your comment will be hidden. Get upset about that, and further action may result. Thank you for your attention. :-)

As 'Charmer noted above, the Dodgers are playing the Cardinals as I write, and it's looking pretty good for St. Louis, as I'm pleased to report an 8-3 lead for them in the fifth. That would keep our lead at 2.5 games, and overall, I'm satisfied with having taken two out of three here. The next four games against the Teixeira-less Braves will also be an interesting test: we are supposed to be going to tomorrow night's game, but Mrs. SnakePit is feeling mucousy and less than 100%, so we will be making a decision on that nearer the time. Looks like another early night for us!

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