If my wish a couple of days ago was to see some performances by the pitching staff reminiscent of April, Jeff Karstens and James McDonald have delivered them in the last couple of games. McDonald was flat-out excellent today, striking out 10 Giants in seven innings, holding them to just one run. He shrugged off a half-hour rain delay like it was nothing, and he gave a pretty awesome statement performace for Tony La Russa and company to consider, should an All-Star spot come open in the next 48 hours or so.
Of course, every good pitching performance needs runs to go with it. Ryan Vogelsong was pretty good, but the Pirates made five of their eight hits off of him go for extra bases and that helped them cash in three runs. Mike McKenry’s power surge continued with a double and a homer Neil Walker doubled twice (once driving in a run), and Pedro Alvarez had an RBI double. That was all McDonald and Jason Grilli and Joel Hanrahan (with a big assist from Clint Barmes’s glove) needed.
No matter what the Reds do tonight and tomorrow, the Pirates will go into the All Star Break at least tied for first place.