Monday, June 9th, 2008 by Adam Wagner

Dumatrait, offense come together to beat D’Backs

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The Pirates responded to two consecutive losses to the Arizona Diamondbacks by beating the NL West’s first place team on Sunday, 6-4.  Phil Dumatrait was again solid for the Pirates, throwing five and two-thirds innings on a steamy day in Pittsburgh, surrendering two runs and striking out three opponents.  The Pirates were finally able to muster some offense against Arizona pitching, which had shut them down two days in a row, as they went for five runs in three and two-thirds innings against Diamondbacks’ pitcher Doug Davis.

Dumatrait, who has effectively become the Pirates’ ace, was not at his best Sunday, throwing 94 pitches during his time in the game and giving up one run on a passed ball and another to Mark Reynolds, who hit his first home run of the game in the fifth inning. (He would hit another later on, in the eighth inning.)  The heat may have had some effect on Dumatrait’s performance, which was very solid in the end, but which never quite felt like he was in total control (even though looking over the play by play, he did pitch very well).

The Pirates’ offense breaking out was more important, as they were just severely shut down by Brandon Webb/Dan Haren the past two nights.  Just as important, though, were the guys who were contributing.

  • Adam LaRoche had a three-hit day, something that he desperately needed.  LaRoche really isn’t that bad of a hitter, but he just seems to have convinced himself that he can’t hit early in the season.  I’m not sure that this game was some great turning point for him, but hopefully he isn’t the .220 hitter that he has been to this point in the season.
  • Jose Bautista had an RBI double.  Bautista probably profiles as the Pirates’ supersub of the very near future, particularly with the drafting of Pedro Alvarez, but while he is still a starter it is nice to see him having some success at the plate.  When he is on a roll, Bautista is actually a pretty good hitter.
  • Raul Chavez had a two hit, one RBI day.  Chavez was known for his defense coming to the Pirates, but his bat has also been good lately.  He handles the pitchers noticeably better than either Ronny Paulino or Ryan Doumit do and, if he starts hitting, could be on his way to becoming the next, much older, better version of Humberto Cota. (And there are much worse players to have as your backup catcher than that.)
  • Jack Wilson had two RBIs.  It’s vital to the Pirates’ offense that Wilson gets going, as the outfield has been carrying the team for the first two months of the season with the infield getting little to no production, especially out of the shortstop spot.  If Wilson can start hitting in RBI situations, the Pirates will be much better off from a run-producing standpoint.
  • Jason Bay had a two-run double.  It is vital for the future of the Pirates that Bay hits, as if he continues to produce he will be worth even more at the trade deadline.  Yes, that is cynical and the reality is that right now he is helping the Pirates win games, but the truth is that if he’s wearing a Pirate uniform after July 31 someone has failed to do their job.

The Pirates did manage to prevent the magic number from falling with a very good effort against Arizona despite Franqulis Osoria attempting to give the Diamondbacks the game in the eighth inning until John Grabow was called on to settle the situation down.

On Monday afternoon, they face Randy Johnson, who has owned the Pirates over his career, in what could be the Big Unit’s last start against Pittsburgh ever.  Of course, I said that last year when I went to sit in the sun on an uncomfortable Sunday afternoon to see Johnson shut the Pirates down.

Hopefully the result is better tomorrow and the Pirates can inch ever closer to .500 and ever further away from the cellar of the NL Central.

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