I haven’t seen many wins as complete as the Bucs’ domination of the Padres last night. Five hiters (Freddy Sanchez, Craig Monroe, Andy LaRoche, Eric Hinske, and Jason Jaramillo) had multiple hits while the Pirates scored in six of nine innings last night. Zach Duke went a strong 8 1/3 innings and if not for a horrible route to a ball in the outfield by Nyjer Morgan that became a Scott Hairston triple, he would’ve been gunning for his second shutout of the young season. When Duke did finally hit the wall in the ninth, Evan Meek came in and threw two pitches to record the last two outs and nail down the win. After getting hit hard last Sunday against the Braves, Duke only allowed two hits in the first eight innings, striking out five and walking two.
After a tough extra-inning loss on Friday, it was just what the doctored ordered in every way for the Pirates. Facing Jake Peavy on Sunday, they really needed a win last night and even without Nate McLouth, the offense gave them what they needed. Duke provided some much-needed rest for the bullpen with a strong start that we all needed to see from him after his bad start last week, and Meek bailed him out without blinking an eye.
One other thing I noticed last night during the game: the FSN cameras got a good shot of Joe Kerrigan in the dugout, studying some incredibly detailed batters’ charts. Who remembers Andrews or Colborn doing any such thing? The most impressive thing about the pitching staff to me this year is that they just seemed much more prepared to exploit hitters’ weaknesses. Last night, Duke was great at catching Padres’ hitters off balance just like Ohlendorf did against the Marlins. Maybe we should stop being so surprised when we see this sort of thing.