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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Duke Sparkles Again

Not sure where this has come from. Magic? Joe Kerrigan? Whatever it is, Zach Duke has won back-to-back starts for the first time since June of last year. After that start 6/9/08 vs. Arizona, Duke’s record was 4-4. He would go 1-10 the rest of the way.

Duke walked two and allowed four hits. The Astros didn’t advance a runner to third until two were out in the seventh. He struck out five. The effort was Duke’s third career shutout. His final win last year was a shutout of SF.

Every Pirate starter had at least one hit – and, no, Andy LaRoche didn’t start – contributing to the win. Adam LaRoche hit a two run homer as part of a five run third and Ryan Doumit added an “oh by the way” solo homer in the 8th to cap the scoring at 7-0. Freddy Sanchez had three doubles.

The Pirates offense was unkind to Astros starter Brian Moehler, who fell to 0-2 on the season.

The Good

More, please from Zach Duke. It’s like 2005 all over again. Good grief, where did this optimism come from?

Adam LaRoche had three hits, giving him his first three hit April game since 4/18/06 when he was still with Atlanta. LaRoche had just one homer and five RBI for all of April 2008. This far into the season, he has two dingers and four RBIs. Is that more optimism?

The Bad

Harry Kalas passed away today. Very sad. Other than Harry Caray, there is probably no other broadcaster I have tried to (poorly) imitate. Here’s a long winded story for you: My brother belongs to a local sports club in Cincinnati that has some wicked cool displays of baseball memorabilia. The club also brings in speakers – numerous Hall of Famers have been in along with a lot of ex-Reds. Mike Schmidt – a Dayton, OH native – was in last week. Part of the program involves a random door prize, which my brother has never won. However, with the Schmidt event, they decided to add a trivia side as well and bring some skill into the contest. The question was off which pitcher did Schmidt clout his 500th homer. The answer, of course, is former Bucco Don Robinson. My brother, of course, knew it and won the door prize – an autographed pair of game worn Mike Schmidt cleats. Upon hearing the story all I could hear in my head was Harry Kalas’ call of the homer – “Michael Jack Schmidt…” And now he is gone.

The Rest

Former Pirates OF Jason Michaels started and had one hit. Former Bucco farmhand Jeff Keppinger – traded in the Kris Benson deal to the Mets – also started and had one hit.

Houston entered the game with the worst offense in the NL, scoring 2.67 runs per game, a full run less than Arizona. This effort won’t help. They were also shutout on Sunday by St. Louis.

Because it was the home opener, Steve Blass threw out the first pitch to celebrate his 50 years of affiliation with the franchise. Unlike Michael Keaton a few years ago, I’m assuming he didn’t criticize the team in a press conference following the pre-game ceremonies.  

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Joe Kerrigan will be a major asset to the young pitching staff. He was very good with the Expos and the coachable Red Sox. The Phillies, in 2003-04 thought they didn’t need help and it caused a tremendous amount of friction. Joe will work with all of the staff and the ones that are open to his methods, mechanics and situational pitching maxims will benefit greatly.

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