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Pirates grab share of first place in National League Central

Jul 16, 2011, 9:25 AM EDT

Karstens Pirates AP

Did you wake up feeling a little off today? Maybe your cup of coffee doesn’t taste quite the same as it usually does and you have the sudden and unprecedented impulse to go for an early morning jog? No worries, it’s perfectly explainable. You see, the Pirates are tied with the Cardinals for first place in the National League Central.

And isn’t it appropriate that Jeff Karstens was the one to get them there? He needed just 83 pitches to complete a five-hitter in a 3-0 victory over the Astros last night. That’s right, 83 pitches. According to our friends at Elias, it was the fewest pitches in a complete game this season and just the sixth time since 2002 that someone has thrown a complete game with 83 pitches or less.

Believe it or not, Karstens now ranks third in the National League with a 2.34 ERA over 107 2/3 innings. By the way, last year’s NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay is fifth. That’s some deal with the devil he has going on.

Now 48-43 on the year, this is the latest the Pirates have been in first place since July 17, 1997. You know, back when Pirates’ star center fielder Andrew McCutchen was 10 years old.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Jul 16, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    As a Phillies fan that grew up watching some great late 70’s, early 80’s rivalries between us and the Pirates, I love to see this. I have been pulling for Pittsburgh to take that division. Clint Hurdle has done a great job with that team. Who knows, Phils vs. Pirates in the playoffs? Stranger things have happened.

  2. hellmaca - Jul 16, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    The Reds are in first place? That is a neat trick being three games back while being tied for first in the NL Central. I can’t wait until the Cardinals learn that trick.

  3. jaym68 - Jul 16, 2011 at 10:36 AM

    I concur with hallidaysbiceps (what a username?????)……as a life long Phillie fan I also enjoy when the cross state pirates are a team to contend with. Makes it fun to talk to all the PIttsburgers. Tired of beating up on the Mets all the time.

    • halladaysbiceps - Jul 16, 2011 at 10:46 AM

      I’ll go even further. If it was up to me, Pittsburgh would have never been pulled out of the NL East. I miss the interstate rivalry that we once had. I would gladly switch the Marlins and the Pirates in a heartbeat. We have no geographical rivaly whatsoever with Florida. Never did.

  4. Ari Collins - Jul 16, 2011 at 10:57 AM

    They’re not just tied, either. They’re percentage points ahead!

    • D.J. Short - Jul 16, 2011 at 11:07 AM

      Not percentage points. One game ahead in loss column. Still, though!

      • Senor Cardgage - Jul 16, 2011 at 11:23 AM

        The Pirates are 48–43, which is .52747. The Cardinals are 49–44, which is .52688. The Buccos are indeed percentage points ahead. (They only both look like .527 because of rounding.)

      • D.J. Short - Jul 16, 2011 at 11:49 AM

        Ah, of course. I even gave myself a thumb’s down on that. Percentage points, it is!

  5. florida76 - Jul 16, 2011 at 11:04 AM

    Difficult to say whether the Bucs can continue this level of success, while the pitching staff has overachieved, the team has been hit hard by injuries, but young talent has filled in capably. Despite the embarrassing losing streak, baseball didn’t begin in 1993, and the Pirates still have an impressive winning tradition, with more world titles than teams like the Tigers and more hall of famers(players who spent the majority of their career) than teams like the Red Sox.

  6. xmatt0926x - Jul 16, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    I too am not a Pirates fan but I am rooting for their success. I read a story on their plans not too long ago and apparently they will not be making any strong moves to go for the division this soon in their developmental stages. I understand that you don’t go crazy and trade off all your young talent to take a shot in the dark but that division is there for the taking. Why not see if you can keep most of the good kids but at the same time maybeget another bat or arm for a division run? Why wait? Isn’t this what you aspire to do as a franchise? To go for a division title? The fans are starting to show up, you have what’s considered by many to be one of the very top stadiums. Go for it!! Imagine the compelling story of having 18 or so losing seasons and all of a sudden out of nowhere your fighting for the division. Then next year you’ll draw many more fans resluting in much more revenue. Go for it Pirates management!!

  7. ikedavisnose - Jul 16, 2011 at 2:22 PM

    @jaym68. Ya know some met fans still actually care about what people think so there

  8. ikedavisnose - Jul 16, 2011 at 2:23 PM

    Also halladaysbisceps. Two can play that name game

  9. dailyrev - Jul 16, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Been watching them all season long because I had a feeling about these buccos coming in. They are not a flash in the pan, this is a quality baseball team with a solid organization throughout their minors that’s made most of its run with 8 or 10 regulars on the DL. Their 3rd string catcher (dubbed “Fort McKenry” by the local media) and AAA shortstop d’Arnaud have both been the kinds of discoveries a team has to make in order to contend over a long season of injuries. Their pitching staff has proven to be among the two or three deepest in all of baseball, and can only get better as a couple of guys get back from the DL later this month. Their 2Bman Walker is what the old guys just call a Baseball Player — defense, baserunning, game instincts, and clutch hitting (he’s hitting below .260 but with 59 or 60 RBIs). Their “big names” — CF McCutchen (one of the more exciting players in the game short of Reyes) and power-hitting 3b Alvarez (soon to return from the DL) could give them a middle of the order to rival Milwaukee’s over the last half, especially if their GM does some smart shopping before the deadline. And the Brews had to buy an extra closer (albeit at a cost of “only” around $4M) — Hanrahan is arguably the best in the game right now.

    I had mentioned to a fellow golf fan earlier this week that come Sunday underdog-lovers everywhere could have their way: a long-suffering rock-pushed like Darren Clarke winning the Open and the Pirates taking over 1st in the NL Central. That’s all looking very good now.

  10. Old Gator - Jul 16, 2011 at 2:59 PM

    I love to see this sort of thing too. Good luck to Clint Hurdle and his gang. I grew up in an era when the Pirates mattered. There’s been a vacuum where they used to roam. Makes a baseball season much more interesting when the usual suspects get shown up by the young Turks.

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