I didn’t think when this game began that I’d be researching the last time Jeff Karstens gave up nine earned runs in a game. I also didn’t think about how many Pirates hitters bounced into three double plays in a single game. But really, I should’ve known better. Karstens performance this year has been nothing short of exceptional. But it is also nothing short of unexpected.
When Karstens moved into the rotation back in April, I thought he’d have bad days. He really hasn’t. His record coming into this game was 8-5 and in his five losses he gave up a total of nine earned runs. As good as he has been, his record should be better. He has only allowed five runs twice in 19 starts.
This game was ugly. The teams traded runs early. The Pirates tok a quick 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first against Aaron Harang. Andre McCutchen singled and Garett Jones doubled. Ryan Ludwick and Neil Walker hit consecutive RBI singles. The rally was thwarted when Pedro Alvarez hit into a double play and Ryan Doumit was retired.
San Diego quickly tied it in the top of the second. They also went single-double-single (Jesus Guzman, Orlando Hudson and Will Venable) to score one run. One out later A ground ball out from Luis Martinez plated the tying run.
The Pirates retook the lead in the bottom of the second. Xavier Paul singled and moved to third an an errant pick off throw from Harang. Ronny Cedeno knocked him in with a single.
The Padres struck in the third to knot it at three each. Cameron Maybin doubled leading off and scored after moving up one base each on ground ball outs from Jason Bartlett and Chase Headley.
Ryan Doumit broke the tie with a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth. Earlier in the inning Ludwick was erased on another double play from Alvarez.
The game took a fateful turn in the fourth. Venable, Kyle Blanks and Martinez hit consecutive singles to tie the score. Harang hit into a force play and Maybin singled to load the bases. Bartlett walked to force in a run and Headley hut a grand slam to put San Diego up 9-4.
The bottom of the fourth ended with another double play off the bat of Alvarez.
Headley’s dinger capped the scoring and knocked Karstens from the game. Tony Watson relieved. He gave up a solo jack to Kyle Blanks in the fifth.
Jason Grilli pitched the next two innings. He was tagged for three runs in the seventh. Hudson walked. Venerable tripled him in. A grounder from Martinez brought in Venable. Pinch hitter Aaron Cunningham added a two out homer to make it 13-4.
Pittsburgh got one run back in the bottom of the seventh when Garret Jones was walked with the bases loaded.
Jesus Guzman homered with Headley on in the eighth off Daniel McCutchen to make the final s ore 15-5.
Karstens gave up nine runs and got just ten outs. He gave up nine hits and walked one. Harang wasn’t all that sharp. He lasted five and gave up four runs. He yielded 13 hits. He struck out one and walked three.
The offense is showing signs of life.
Ludwick had four hits and five other players had two hits.
Karstens was not too good.
Alvarez hit into three double plays and committed an error.
Stranding 16 runners.
Losing eight straight.
Karstens is 0-4 against the Friars. Harang is 14-6 against the Pirates.
The nine earned runs surrendered by Karstens were the most for him in a single outing.
The 13 hits that the Bucs collected off of Harang were the second most he has allowed in his career in one appearance.
Last time the offense gathered 15 or more safeties was July 3 against Washington.
According to baseball-reference.com, the three double plays that Alvarez hit into tie a franchise record for most double plays hit into in a single game. He is in pretty good company with Jeff King, Roberto Clemente, Ralph Kiner and Bill Brubaker. Each of them had at least one season with 100 RBI. King was the most recent to do it and it came in an extra inning game on July 2, 1990.
The four homers from San Diego are a season high.
Headley set a career high with five RBI.
Blanks came into the game with just three hits in 37 at bats. He collected two in this game including his first 2011 homer.
Cunningham’s homer was also his first of 2011.
This was Ludwick’s eighth career four hit game and his second in 2011.