PNC Park | 7:05 | Duke vs. Roy Halladay | Box
I don’t know if it was the Blue Jays struggling offense or if Zach Duke was actually pitching well. Either way, I’ll take it. Duke matched Roy Halladay zero for zero over seven innings. Both pitchers allowed six hits. Halladay left the game after Nyjer Morgan lined a ball off his temple. It deflected right to Scott Rolen for an inning ending out. Halladay is apparently okay.
The Pirates best chance to score came in the fifth. Doug Mientkiewicz walked and moved to third on a single by Jack Wilson. Mientkiewicz tagged up on a fly ball along the rightfield line to Alexis Rios off the bat of Raul Chavez. But Rios made a beautiful throw that nailed Mienkiewicz easily at the plate. And his slide was ugly.
The Pirates finally pushed one across in the 12th. Mientkiewicz doubled. Wilson reached on a dribbler down the third base line. After an IBB, Jason Michaels grounder was booted by John McDonald and the Bucs won. It reminded of June 21, 2003 when McDonald, then with Cleveland, committed a two out error in the 9th inning to help the Pirates tie it up and win it in 15. That was the game that Brian Giles made an amazing catch in leftfield to rob Brandon Phillips of a certain home run.
I wonder if J.P. Ricciardi will take some cheap shots at any Pirate players while the Jays are in town? But I understand why you would look at Dunn from the surface and conclude that he doesn’t care too much about baseball. It doesn’t look like he is giving much effort and it doesn’t appear that he has improved much – he still strikes out a lot and his defense in left is still suspect. I don’t know if he is worth the $13 million that he is getting now is fair market value for him. But, I do know that it is unfair to compare him to Dave Kingman. In little more than half of the career at bats that Kong got, Dunn has already walked more. So, while Kingman posted a career OBP of .302 (with a career high of .343), Dunn’s stands at .382 (with a career low of .354).
Roy Halladay is second in complete games among players whose careers started after 1995, trailing Livan Hernandez. He and Roy Oswalt are neck-and-neck for most wins among pitchers born in 1977. Halladay has had some rather bad run support this year. After a loss on May 9, his record stood at 3-5, but his ERA was a tasty 3.29. Things have gotten better as he has won four of his last five decisions to move to 8-6 on the year. His ERA is 3.06, good enough for sixth best in the AL.
His lone appearance against the Pirates was a win in 2003. He gave up one run in eight innings and struck out nine in Toronto on June 11, 2003. Doug Mientkiewicz (6-18) and Chris Gomez (4-10) have done the bulk of the work against Hallday among current Buccos.
Zach Duke’s 2008 ERA remains right at league average. He is 4-4, having won his last two decisions. Duke has never faced the Blue Jays. He has faced several former NL refugees that dot the Blue Jays roster. Scott Rolen is 5-8. David Eckstein is 6-16 and Kevin Mench is 4-10.
I keep thinking that this is the start of the make or break stretch for the Pirates. The are four games under .500. They started off interleague play with some poor games. If they are going to hover around .500 for the remainder of the year, they’ll need to get going at home. Starting now.