Of course Brandon Inge would be the player to get the key RBI double in this game. Of course he'd be the one to turn in two stellar plays at third base to keep the Phillies off of the board with the Pirates clinging to a 1-0 lead and the Phillies threatening. Of course that's how it was going to happen after me and most Pirate fans and bloggers spent a good part of the afternoon complaining about Inge being put on the team and right into the starting lineup despite not really doing anything to earn or deserve the spot. How else was this game going to turn out?
I will continue to stand by my criticism of the Pirates for keeping Inge, McDonald, and Barmes all on the team together. It's not a Brandon Inge thing (by almost all accounts, Brandon Inge is a good guy and a great teammate), it's just that I think that it's crazy that the Pirates are devoting so much of their roster to no-hit, defense-first, old guys. If you want to keep John McDonald on the roster so that you can pinch hit for Clint Barmes in big situations and give him a day off here and there, that's fine. But you can't do that if one of your bench options to pinch-hit for Barmes is Inge. That's not how you build a roster, in my opinion.
In any case, the longer that I waste on Brandon Inge, the less time that gets spent talking about Jeff Locke. Locke made what had to be the best start of his short career on Tuesday night. He threw six shutout innings, striking out six, walking two, and only giving up two hits (though both went for extra bases). I saw almost none of the game, but the few parts that I did see, Locke was using a 90-92 mph fastball like a scalpel to keep the Phillie hitters off balance. Locke is not an untalented guy and his minor league numbers suggest that he should be capable of nights like this, but it's happened pretty rarely thus far in his big league career. It's nice to know that he's capable of giving the Pirates six strong innings and turning the game over to the bullpen. Tony Watson, Mark Melancon, and Jason Grilli were typically excellent tonight, shutting the Phillies out for three innings and only allowing the two singles that Melancon gave up in the eighth.
On Monday, the Pirates lost to Jonathan Pettibone with AJ Burnett on the mound. On Tuesday, the beat Cole Hamels with Jeff Locke on the mound. More often than not the large data tends in baseball bear themselves out in terms of wins and losses in a way that you'd expect them to, but sometimes the individual data points themselves are awfully surprising.