In baseball, especially when you’re struggling like the Pirates are, you have to strike when your opponent makes a mistake. Thankfully for the Pirates and their fans, that’s exactly what they did.
With matching scoreless frames going into the bottom of the fifth, it was an error to lead off the inning by center fielder Carlos Gomez to allow Neil Walker to reach. Now errors are costly for teams, but in no way did the Brewers, Pirates or any of the 37, 568 in attendance see it being this costly.
Michael McKenry, who snapped a 0-21 skid last night, stepped up to the dish two batters after Walker and laced a double scoring Walker.
Helping his own cause, starting pitcher Jeff Karstens shot a single the opposite way to score McKenry and make the score 2-0.
“I looked pretty bad on the first couple of pitches,” Karstens said. “In those situations as pitchers, you can focus a little more and it helped us out. It kept the rally going, got some guys fired up and got me fired up.”
Earlier this year, Karstens got a hit and didn’t realize it until he heard the fans cheer and realized he better run. Did he realize it this time around.
“I saw where the ball went tonight, but I did hit a foul ball that I didn’t know where it went,” Karstens said.
Before leaving the game with an injured groin, Jose Tabata recorded his first RBI since being recalled from Triple-A with a double to the notch. Despite his three strikeout performance, Travis Snider followed with an RBI single of his own.
This all goes back to Gomez’s error. Like McKenry said, you have to be opportunistic.
“When something like that happens, you really have to take advantage of it the best you can,” McKenry said. “Luckily we did and even Karstens came up with a big hit to make it 2-0 so it was big.”
Although Karstens helped with his bat, he put together another magnificent performance on the mound as well. Karstens gave up just seven hits and no runs while strikeout out four over his seven-plus innings of work before being pulled with an apparent groin injury.
For Karstens, one of the more under appreciated players not the Pirates, he was happy with his outing and most importantly, he feels fine.
“I think all of the tests came back good, at least from my standpoint I thought,” Karstens said. “I’m just glad we got the win.”
“I don’t see myself missing any time or anything like that and I should be ready to go in five days.”
Hurdle was impressed with Karstens performance tonight.
“You saw two guys out there tonight who were just pitching,” Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. “Changing speeds, location and command are their best weapons. Jeff tonight gave us the start that we did need exactly. The only guy that seemed to have a good read on him was (Aramis) Ramirez.”
After losing four straight, this was the type of win that the Pirates needed to get on track. Karstens, as he often does, credited McKenry for calling a great game.
“It’s just one of those things where the game plan changes from time to time and working with Mack – I think you guys will notice he’s kind of my catcher – for a couple years now, we just have a really good idea,” Karstens said. “We both look over the reports and talk about them. We have a game plan and a really good idea about what we want.”
“I think the biggest thing is we have fun out there. Things happen and I’m still smiling. Guys take a big swing on my curveball and I love it. It’s just part of the game. Like Ray (Searage) said, ‘this is a game for big leaguers and I’m a little kid.'”
McKenry echoed Karstens and said he really enjoys catching him.
“It’s a lot of fun because there’s a lot of trickery involved and a lot of different aspects that you can fiddle with and play with,” McKenry said. “He’s a lot of fun to catch. It’s like playing wiffle ball every fifth day, whether I’m catching or not, it’s fun to watch or catch.”
Taking the hill tomorrow in the series finale will be southpaw Erik Bedard (7-13, 4.76 ERA) who will square off with the young Mark Rogers (1-1, 5.02). First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET.