In front of a sell out crowd, Zach Duke threw a four hit, complete game shutout leading the Pittsburgh Pirates (4-3) to a 7-0 victory over the Houston Astros (1-6), Monday afternoon at PNC Park.
Duke (2-0) is off to a strong start after a 5-14 season in 2008 and credits pitching coach Joe Kerrigan for the turnaround. Duke‚Äôs complete game shutout was the first by a Pirates pitcher in a home opener since 1978
While Duke dominated on the pitchers mound, Freddy Sanchez had three doubles, starting a five run third inning for the Pirates.
Adam LaRoche who is notoriously a slow starter in April had three hits including a two run homer in the third inning to give the Pirates a 4-0 lead.
Nyjer Morgan capped off the Pirates 5-run third inning, with a two-run single, scoring Ramon Vazquez and Jack Wilson.
Ryan Doumit added a solo homerun in the eighth inning as the Pirates have scored 30 runs in their four wins this season.
The Houston Astros lost for the 5th straight game and were shutout for the second consecutive game.
The Pirates wore replica Pittsburgh Police Department caps to honor the three police officers who died in the line of duty last week.
WP: Duke (2-0)
LP: Moehler (0-2)
The Latest Pirates Buzz
For the Pirates April is their September. They have to get off to a solid start in April to keep the fan base interested. So far they are doing a good job of that and there is always a buzz for a home-opener but today was a little different.
Seems like some fans actually have some optimism for this team. A reason the Pirates may stay somewhat competitive early in the season is because of how down the National League Central is going to be.
Houston will be¬†having a¬†fire sale by July.
The players were all smiles following the game and for the first time since who knows when, they are actually walking around the room with some confidence. How long that will last remains to be seen.
The Pirates remain somewhat active in exploring trades and are being linked
to Dodgers outfielder Delwyn Young. Young, 26, batted .246 in 83 games for the Dodgers last season. The Pirates like Young‚Äôs upside as he has been battling some injuries over the past couple years.
Third baseman Andy LaRoche was scratched for the third time this afternoon. LaRoche is 0-for-14 on the season and he‚Äôs another example of how you shouldn‚Äôt look too much spring training stats.
The coaching staff has been working exclusively with LaRoche on the side and we keep hearing that he lacks confidence and is trying too hard. LaRoche is at the age where he doesn‚Äôt have that luxury anymore.
Management is not very high on him, as evident by their pursuit for a starting third baseman this winter. The pressure is on LaRoche to produce or the organization will move on.
Zach Duke faced 33 batters, had 5 strike outs, 14 groundouts and 8 flyball outs. Duke is on his game when he is getting ground ball outs and his off-speed pitches have been the key to his success this season.
The Pirates have a day off on Tuesday and did not have to go to their bullpen on Monday.
Ross Ohlendorf (0-1, 3.00 ERA) will start for the Pirates on Wednesday.
Morgan lf 1-for-5, 2 RBI
Sanchez 2b 3-for-5, 2 R, 3 2B (6)
McLouth cf 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Doumit c 2-for-5, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 HR (2), 1 SO
Adam LaRoche 1b 3-for-4, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 2B (1), 1 HR (2), 1 BB
Moss rf 1-for-5
Vazquez 3b 1-for-3 1 R, 1 BB
Wilson ss 1-for-3, 1 R, 1 BB
Duke 1-for-2, 1 2B (2), 1 BB, 1 S
Duke (W 2-0) 9 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 SO