The brave new world of Pirate baseball got off to an auspicious start this afternoon in Wrigley Field as the Buccos dropped their nemesis, the Cubbies, 3-0.
Jeff Karstens, in his first Pirate and MLB start, pitched six shutout innings. While his line wasn't exactly Koufax-like (5 hits, four walks, 2 K's, 101 pitches), it was exactly what the Pirates needed.
The bullpen work of Denny Bautista, Sean Burnett and John Grabow kept the goose eggs comin' over the final three, allowing just three walks over that span. Two were erased on inning-ending DP's; the Cubs hit into 4 twin killings over the course of the afternoon.
The cloud around today's silver lining was that Pittsburgh escaped with a win while walking seven batters. That won't happen often, especially against the Cubs.
As for the new guys, Andy LaRoche played third and batted fifth, with a single and run scored. He also started an around-the-horn DP. Brandon Moss hit sixth, and was 0-3 with 2 K's and a walk. He made a nice catch in right and doubled a runner off of first in the opening frame.
But the heroes were LF Jay Michaels, who had two hits, homered, scored a run and had 2 RBI, and SS Jack Splat, who with the dual relief of finally being off the meat market and returning to his comfortable eight hole, banged out a double and two singles with an RBI. Wilson started one DP and turned another.
John Russell has made a couple of changes with his revamped lineup. He batted Nate McLouth third, which got Wilson back into his customary eighth spot - the pitcher returns to ninth, yay!
Burnett looks like he'll start seeing some game-on-the-line action now, too. And Jose Bautista will become a super sub, where his versatility can help the team. Young LaRoche will be given a long look at third.
And the Cub curse may be on its way to being exorcised. After losing the first seven games (and most weren't close) to Chicago, Pittsburgh has taken 4 of the past 6 matches.
On the minor league front: RHP John Van Benschoten made his first appearance since being assigned to the bullpen at Indy. He gave three runs and two hits in 1 2/3 innings. He struck out two and walked three.
> C Ronny Paulino (.143), in his fourth game of a rehab stint at Bradenton, went 1 for 3 with an RBI as the DH.