Pirates Game 7 Recap: Duke throws shutout in home opener

I caught the first six innings of the Pirates game on TV today before leaving for Lynchburg for the Hillcats game. What I saw was very impressive from Zach Duke. It wasn’t an outing where he was catching some breaks, and facing a weak team. It was a situation where he was mowing down batters, and showing signs of dominance.

I’m not the biggest believer in Zach Duke. This is mainly because we’ve seen him put up great performances in the past few years, only to totally bomb the next time out. This was the fourth career shutout for Duke. His last shutout came on September 5th, 2008 against the Giants. This was following eight innings with two earned runs against the Cubs in the previous start.

The follow up to those two outings? 11 runs, seven earned, in 9.2 innings over his next two starts.

By all means this was a great performance by Duke. I just don’t think I’ll be comfortable with him taking the mound unless we see this type of performance with some sort of consistency.

As for the offense, unlike the starts by Ian Snell and Ross Ohlendorf, Duke got some major run support. Adam LaRoche had three hits, including a clutch two run homer to give the Pirates a 4-0 lead. Ryan Doumit had two hits, one of those a homer, and knocked in two runs. Freddy Sanchez had three doubles and scored the first two runs. Every Pirates hitter, including Duke, had at least one hit.

Let’s hope we see more of these types of performances. As for points for the MVP tracker:

-One point for Zach Duke for obvious reasons. Duke ties with Nyjer Morgan and Paul Maholm at the top of the list.

-One point for Adam LaRoche for his three hits, including a two run homer. Someone must have torn the month of April off of LaRoche’s calendar.

-One point for Freddy Sanchez for his three doubles, and the first two runs of the game.

-One point for Ryan Doumit for getting things started with an RBI single, and wrapping them up with a solo homer.

Other Stuff

-If you haven’t already, check out the recap, photos, and videos from the Lynchburg Hillcats game I attended today. I’m hoping to go down later in the season to see Bryan Morris when he’s healthy, and Robbie Grossman when he’s called up from West Virginia.

-On a related note, it was 25 cent hot dog night at the ballpark. I ate five. In my defense, I didn’t eat much for breakfast and lunch, and the last two and a half were mostly for warmth. After the resulting effects from eating five hot dogs, I have a new respect for competitive eaters.

-No draft prospects were in action on Monday. I wanted to do a write up on all of the players I’m tracking, but I decided that finishing and filing my taxes was more important. I figure the friendly people at the IRS would agree. I’m hoping to do this tomorrow morning before the games start (especially since the Pirates are off tomorrow).

-The Pirates now have six quality starts in their seven games. I’m looking forward to Ross Ohlendorf on Wednesday to see if he can follow up on his strong game against St. Louis.

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Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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