The Pirates start out the second half of the season with a nice win over the Washington Nationals. They had some decent pitching and timely hitting to get this W.
Zach Duke continues to struggle with his control but he ended up getting the win to raise his record to 6-8 but his ERA is 5.15. He definitely doesn’t look anywhere near the form of last year. The staff as a whole has had a lot of command issues this season, I am not sure if its mechanics or mental but I hope Colburn can figure them out. Matt Capps is our best reliever (aside of Gonzo) and we have to give credit to Jim Tracy for this one. Tracy raved about Capps’ skills from the beginning of Spring Training and Capps’ performance has backed up Tracy’s talk. Torres came in to the game and promptly walked Soriano on four straight balls after getting ahead 0-2. Then he threw a wild pitch allowing a runner to score. There is a big part of me that hopes Torres gets traded at deadline, to the point where I may throw a party if he does. I am really interested to see what happens these next couple of weeks with trades and stuff. (On a side note: Did Cam Bonifay make that trade for the Reds? The Nationals absolutely stole two very good players for some relievers who are a dime a dozen.) Freddy keeps hitting and his average is sitting at .359! This batting title may be a serious discussion now with Nomar slowing down a little bit (at this moment Nomar is at .350) and that may be the only reason fans are following the Pirates come September! Keep it up Freddy!
The hitting was awesome tonight. Jack Wilson had three hits and I think he is one of the unsung heroes in this lineup. If he starts hitting like he did a month and a half ago the lineup will get a big lift. Bay hit the ball hard all night and I see a BIG hot streak coming up for him in the near future. Bautista continues to impress with his power hitting his 11th home run in only 187 at bats! (Another side note: Littlefield would have been burned at the stake if Bautista was doing this for say the Devil Rays, one of the teams that had him last year. We would have lost him and Shelton to Rule 5 picks! We did lose Bautista to rule 5 but ended up making a trade involving him. I don’t understand how we get killed in Rule 5 recently, next year we will end up losing Jason Bay.)
Gonzalez has been a big bright spot for this team but has gone a little unnoticed. He has been a perfect 14/14 in save situations, after years of setting up for Jose Mesa. I am a big fan of Gonzo and hope he can keep this success up the rest of the year and for many years to come.
Ending Note: I am going to make a fearless prediction and say that the Pirates are going to make a nice turnaround in the second half of the season. I think the starters will pitch deeper in games and better because of the experience they received through the first half of the year. The hitting hasn’t been a problem and I think they will keep up their end of the bargain. I am not saying they are going to get back to .500 but I think they will end up a couple games over .500 for the second half. I am going to predict 38-33 for the last 71 games of the season.