Game #98: Rockies Pound Duke, Sweep Bucs

Coors Field | 3:05 | Duke vs. Aaron Cook | Box
There are probably few things worse in baseball than having a team that has been entirely dependent upon its offense watch its offense go silent in what is traditionally one of the best hitters parks in the league. That is what has happened to the Pirates to open the second half of the season.
The Rockies completed a sweep by getting to Zach Duke in the middle innings. The game started very well. The Pirates scored three runs in the first off of Aaron Cook. But Cook settled in nicely and the Pirates only had two more base runners the rest of the game.
Compare and contrast Duke’s start. He retired the first 10 Colorado batters. Then the wheels fell off and the boat got unhitched. The Rockies scored twice in the fourth to make it 3-2. In the fifth, Jeff Baker and Matt Holliday homered to put the Rockies up for good.
Cook picked up his 12th win. Duke fell to 4-7. He did manage to strike out five hitters, one off his 2008 best.
The Pirate record after 98 games is three games better than it was in 2007.
The Pirates offense scored just nine runs and tallied just 25 hits in the four games at Coors in this series.

Pre-Game Thoughts
All-Star pitcher Aaron Cook goes tonight. He has already set his career high in wins and has to be regarded as one of the few bright spots in a dismal year for Colorado. Cook got off blazing hot in 2008. He started 6-1 and has gone 5-5 since then.
He has faced the Pirates five times – twice in a starting role. But, he has not faced them since 2006 when he suffered a loss (his only decision against Pittsburgh) in six innings pitched.
Other than Xavier Nady (3-12) and Jack Wilson (1-7), the rest of the Pirates are doing pretty well against Cook in somewhat limited looks. Minus those two the club is 12-30 against Cook.
Not sure how much of Zach Duke’s success can be attributed to luck. Well, I’m not sure I should call his 2008 successful. Maybe it is compared to 2007. Anyway, Duke’s pitched about three more innings in 2008 than he did in 2007. His K rate is about the same, but he has given up 20 fewer hits. The result is that his ERA is a full run lower than 2007.
Duke has not faced Colorado since 2006 and he has never pitched in Coors before. He is 2-0 in two starts against the Stones. His ERA in 13 IP is 2.77. Willy Tavares is 4-11 with two doubles against Duke.

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