Times Are Changing

There is no other way to describe Pirates baseball right now other than exciting. The team has scored 6.8 runs per game since June 25th and it’s only picking up. The Pirates were able to sweep the Houston Astros in a four-game home series for the first time since July 18-21, 1979.

While the Pirates won the first three games of the series with their bats, Jeff Karstens played a major role in Thursday night’s victory. Karstens pitched eight shutout innings, allowing just four hits and eight walks while striking out eight batters for the second time this season. He probably could have come out to pitch the ninth, throwing just 89 pitches through those eight innings, but Clint Hurdle decided to go to Joel Hanrahan to close out the game. He started off the inning by walking Jed Lowrie on five pitches. Spectators started to boo, but Hanrahan got back at his hecklers by inducing a 4-6-3 double play by Scott Moore. After walking J.D. Martinez, Martinez was able to advance to second base on defensive indifference, then third base on a wild pitch in the same play. Hanrahan wasn’t going to allow Martinez to score, though, and Chris Johnson flied to right on Hanrahan’s next pitch.

Nobody had a “big” night on offense for the Pirates. The team’s five hits in 26 at-bats drew a team batting average of .192, but they were able to draw three walks. Four of their five hits were doubles from Garrett Jones, Casey McGehee, Neil Walker, and Drew Sutton. The Bucs started their scoring in the second inning when Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee in succession. A groundout by Pedro Alvarez advanced McGehee to third, but Norris ended the inning by getting Michael McKenry and Clint Barmes to ground to short and third. In the very next inning, the bases were loaded when Jeff Karstens hit the only Pirates single of the game to lead off, then Neil Walker hit a book rule double to left center field and Andrew McCutchen walked. Garrett Jones hit a deep fly ball to the warning track in left-center field, but Jordan Schafer caught up to the ball and all the Pirates got out of the play was one run. The bases were quickly reloaded when Casey McGehee was plunked, but K-Dro Alvarez struck out swinging to end the third.

I was in attendance for the game and was able to snap a few pictures with my bad phone camera:

 My seats at the game.

 Jeff Karstens on base. We may never see this again.

 Raise it!

 The food vendor after which my blog is named

 The home plate entrance of PNC Park.

 The best view of PNC Park. Also, the Pirates Charities sign.

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