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Sunday, May 02, 2010

Dodgers Destroy Duke: Dodgers 5, Pirates 1

Zach Duke's 2005 — 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA in 14 starts — portended much better things from him than subsequently happened; he hasn't had a sub-4.00 ERA in any year since, and in fact he's only twice met the mediocre criteria of a quality starter (4.50 ERA) since, in 2006 and last year, 2009. Lost in the fever swamp that is Pittsburgh, in the NL Central (whose marquee franchises either have a history of losing or are in a relatively small market), his 2007 arm injury was unknown to me.

He recovered from it, but just; scouts say the velocity and bite on his fastball are down, and he has the numbers to prove it. The Bucs have him signed on his final arbitration year, and it's unclear what sort of a payday awaits him next year.

Duke's opponent, Carlos Monasterios, came out of the Phillies' system as a Rule 5 draft pick, on the other side of Pennsylvania. Mainly a reliever in the minors, this long use of him yesterday was something of a surprise forced on the Dodgers by their inability to keep their starting rotation healthy. Monasterios was largely unable to throw first-pitch strikes, but managed to make his outs despite getting in and out of trouble all night; the only run he surrendered came on Andrew McCutcheon's two-out solo homer in the first. The Bucs loaded the bases against him in the second, two of the batters hit by pitches. Still, that was as close as they came to scoring against him again, with Andy LaRoche grounding out to Casey Blake at third to end the threat.

Preventing runs against the Bucs isn't that hard — they're next to last in the league in runs scored — so too much shouldn't be read into Monasterios' outing, or the subsequent winner of the game, Ramon Ortiz, who struck out five of the ten batters he faced. It'll probably keep him on the 25-man roster a while longer, but it seems to me likely that it's only a reprieve.

Unlike Friday's game, when the Pirates' defense largely let down the starting pitcher, it was Duke himself who failed in this game, giving up a line drive single to Monasterios to lead off the third; and following a one-out infield single by Russell Martin, Andre Ethier welted a home run to the deepest part of the yard, just over the wall onto the stairs below the outfield bleachers.

And that, really, was the game; the Dodgers scored again on doubles by Ethier and James Loney against former Giant Jack Taschner in the seventh. Taschner was yelling at the Dodgers dugout, though what he was saying I don't know.

Additional miscellany about the game:

ESPN boxDodgers recap

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