Pirates Notebook: A frustrating victory

Yesterday’s loss was a tough one. The Pirates were going up against one of the worst ranked starters in the National League: Brian Moehler, owner of an 8.31 ERA before the game. The Pirates managed just one run on seven hits against Moehler, who pitched a complete game.

Fast forward to tonight. The Pirates were going up against the NL ERA leader and throwing their fifth starter on the mound. You would be lying if you thought the team had little to no shot of winning tonight. After the performance on Friday, it seemed like Karstens could have pitched seven innings with just two runs allowed, and it wouldn’t be enough because he’d get no support.

Well, Karstens came through with the big game. And the offense came through with a massive game, chasing Wandy in the fifth inning with five runs on nine hits.

While the effort tonight is much appreciated, it’s kind of frustrating. Not frustrating because of the win, but frustrating when you wonder why the Pirates can put up great numbers against great pitchers (Jake Peavy? Mark Buehrle/Bobby Jenks?) and then totally fail against pitchers who can’t get anyone out (Gavin Floyd? Brian Moehler?).

Tomorrow the Pirates wrap up the series with the Astros, and this issue will play a big role. Back on April 15th the Pirates took on Mike Hampton in Hampton’s second start of the season. Hampton pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just four hits and one walk, while striking out eight batters. Hampton had a 5.40 ERA going in to the game, but that was just in one start, so it was hard to tell whether Hampton was really that bad, or whether he was back.

Since that point, Hampton has made seven starts, and in those starts he has a 6.57 ERA and 20 strikeouts.

Think about that for a second. Hampton struck out eight Pirates in six innings. He’s only managed 20 strikeouts in his next seven games. Tonight’s win was great, because it was unexpected. Unfortunately if the Pirates want to ever see the better side of .500, they need to win games like Friday against Moehler, and tomorrow against Hampton. This is especially true with Maholm on the mound. It would be a shame to waste another good pitching outing because of a total lack of offense against a struggling pitcher.

The MVP Tracker

The MVP Tracker is updated through the 5/29 game. The top performers from tonight:

1. Jeff Karstens: .192 WPA
2. Freddy Sanchez: .122
3. Eric Hinske: .074
4. Andy LaRoche: .073
5. Robinzon Diaz: .045
5. John Grabow: .045

Other Stuff

-The Draft Prospects Tracker is updated.

-Dustin Ackley went 4 for 4 tonight with two walks to lead UNC over Costal Carolina. Ackley is 7 for 9 in the last two days. It would be amazing if he fell to us, but that’s probably wishful thinking right now, especially since he’s hitting .500 (30 for 60) in the month of May.

-Alex White had another horrible start. In his last two outings, White has combined for 13 runs on 10 hits in 7 innings, with a 9:6 K/BB ratio and two homers.

-Kyle Gibson had another great start. Gibson went eight innings, allowing no runs on six hits, striking out eight, and walking one. Gibson now has 131 strikeouts on the season, tying a Missouri record. Former Missouri starter Aaron Crow had 127 strikeouts in 107.1 innings last season. Gibson got his 131 in 106.2 innings this year.

Author: 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 AccuScore.com, 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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