Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Pirates Vs. Diamondbacks, 16 August 2004

I had no idea how bad the Diamondbacks really were until last night. They've got two pitchers that most teams would like to have (Randy Johnson and Brandon Webb), a few guys with some semblance of upside (Scott Hairston, Chad Tracy, Koyie Hill), a couple of okay veterans (Shea Hillenbrand, Danny Bautista, Mike Koplove), and not much else at all. Some aspects of last night's game were a little bit surreal. If you'd told me a year ago that in 2004 I'd be watching Jose Mesa and Daryle Ward make a close play at first to stop Carlos Baerga, I'd have wondered if it would be at a Newark Bears game or something.

But enough grousing! It was a great game, featuring an improbable comeback, a couple of pretty double plays, an ejection, some big homers, a great slide (by Jose Castillo), about a hundred balls in the dirt, and excellent offensive performances by Hill and Ward. I don't like Ward's long-term chances with the team, but he looked downright great last night, and he looks like he might go on another hot streak like he did after he was called up in May.

The best part of the game, though, was the nine-pitch showdown that ended with Mike Gonzalez striking out Hill to get the final out. Gonzalez looked like he'd ingested a bottle of caffeine pills before going out to pitch. There are certain guys that don't perform well when they become closers, but Gonzalez doesn't look like he'll be one of them - he looks like he'll be great and fun to watch.


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