As Sports Illustrated likes to say – the signs of the apocalypse, as the Pittsburgh Pirates are winning and the New York Yankees are whining.
The Pittsburgh Pirates are in the first place in the National League Central. How did they get there? Ex-Yankee Jeff Karstens (8-4 with a 2.34 ERA) threw an 83 pitch complete game against the Houston Astros. (the coach in charge of watching his pitch count must have been amused), the least pitches thrown in a complete game since the Colorado Rockies’ Aaron Cook only threw 79 in a five-hitter on July 1st , 2008.
More from this MLB.com:
Over the past 10 seasons for the Pirates, the previous low for pitches thrown in a shutout was Paul Maholm’s 91-pitch effort on May 28, 2011. The last recorded shutout by a Pirates pitcher that required fewer pitches came on Sept. 30, 1990, when Doug Drabek threw 80 in a three-hitter. On that day, Drabek put the finishing touches on a masterful season that would eventually bring him the National League Cy Young Award. Pitching against the Cardinals in St. Louis, Drabek went the distance and allowed three hits and no runs for his third shutout of the year. On only 80 pitches, Drabek had not only notched his 22nd win of the season, he had also lifted the Pirates into the postseason for the first time since 1979.
A win tonight in Houston would put them six games over .500 – when was the last time that occurred? According to GoBuccos.com
Last time the Pirates were 6 games over .500 this late in the season? October 4, 1992 when they ended the regular season 96-66 and were getting ready for the playoffs. (On that day, Tim Wakefield won his 8th game of the season as the Pirates beat the Mets 2-0. Bret Saberhagen was the losing pitcher, and gave up a solo home run to Barry Bonds – his 34th of the season – in the 7th inning. Additionally, 1992 was the Pirates last winning season – and it was also the Yankees last losing season.)
So what about at any point in the season? What is the high water mark for this franchise since Barry Bonds was our starting left fielder? 7 games over .500, when they were 12-5 on April 21, 2002. The day before and the day after were the only days at 6 games over .500 during the same time period. So yes, there has been one day since the end of the 1992 season when the Pirates were 7 games over .500 or better
Meanwhile, in New York (well, actually on the road in Toronto), where they expect to win, Yankees manager Joe Girardi channeled his inner Captain Queeg by claiming that the Toronto Blue Jays are stealing signs illegally. This complaint may be more related to hurlers Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia regressing to the mean in 16-7 and 7-1 losses on Thursday and Friday than espionage. As I write this, the Yanks lead Toronto 4-1 in the 7th inning behind the pitching C.C Sabathia.
A duplicate key did exist – and the post-game meal strawberries were eaten by the clubhouse attendants.