The Pirates won. They hit fairly well tonight. Everyone who started got a hit except McHenry the catcher. At least I think that is his name, they change so often. Presley got a triple as did Overbay (actually a double with a one base error). Both scored. The Pirates were able to get this big win with Walker getting the night off. Harrison did well in his absence and the decision to play Wood as the DH payed off nicely as Wood hit a big two run blast.
Karsten did give up two solo home runs. Both in the same inning separated by one out. Still, he made seven innings and pitched a normal game for him. He is becoming a reliable starter. He does not have the stuff Ohlendorf has, but he gets results by simply not throwing balls. The difference between Karstens last year and this year boils down to two things. One is a better defense behind him. Karstens makes the hitters beat him, and the defense then sees action. Last year we stunk at defense. This year we are better. Two is that Karstens has been a starter and his arm is stretched out a little more. Karstens had been in the bullpen the entire season two years ago. When he was called upon to be the starter he had a real wall on pitches and innings. You could bet in the 5th he weakened and by the 6th he was done. Good ole JR never saw it and always left him in long enough to hang him with a loss. This year he does not have that limit or that limit is higher. Whether it is because his arm is stretched out or because he focused on getting more endurance in the offseason is hard to know. Perhaps a combo of both. Still it has made all the difference in the world.
The big news is the punch to Matt Diaz on a double play break up slide given by Escobar. Apparently there was a gentlemen's disagreement about a slide Diaz took on Tuesday. Escobar thought it was spikes up, Diaz thought it okay. The unwritten rule about breaking up double plays is hard slides are allowed in the play is close. If the throw is away the slide is not a take out, if not then breaking it up is accepted. Spikes are different story. Spikes are frowned upon more these days than they used to be. Mostly now spiking is reserved for someone who is blocking the bag. A few years ago Rays short stop Jason Bartlett dropped his leg to cover second because the slide was always head first from some runner, whose name I can't remember. Spikes are a way to ensure that sort of thing does not occur. This is not a problem on a double play because they are not blocking a bag. So if Diaz went in spikes up, then he probably deserved some retribution.
The accepted retribution is a low throw above his head. Baserunners are supposed to slide into second and not block the throw. A middle infielder can get even by dropping his arm angle and buzzing the runners head. Escobar felt he should do this to get even. Well, Escobar then violates the rule because he kept dropping the arm. Diaz clearly goes lower to avoid the buzz, and Escobar never throws the ball. Instead he drops so low that he whacks Diaz in the stomach with the ball. Note in the photo Diaz gets a kick in of his own on the play. Probably not an accident despite his claim. Hard tags with the ball are used, but usually they are in the glove. Escobar appears to have gone for the buzz throw and decided instead to whack. Probably a bit of a mistake on his part. It also of course broke up the double play.
It is a little bit of a shame that this is it for the Blue Jays. Escobar's next at bat would have been interesting.
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