With two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning, Blue Jays catcher JP Arrenciba popped a Jeff Karstens pitch high into the gray Toronto sky. Lyle Overbay, Mike McKenry, and Karstens converged on the ball, but no one could get a read on it and dropped in between the three of them. Even with the Bucs holding 6-2 lead, I groaned. Something funny happened, though. The ball spun hard to the right and hopped into foul territory where McKenry picked it up. Harmless foul ball. On the very next pitch, Arrenciba fouled a ball straight back behind the plate. McKenry lost it in the clouds again, Karstens came rushing in, then at the last second McKenry darted into the picture, called Karstens off, and made a catch. The inning, and Karsten’s night, ended with the 6-2 lead intact.
The entire season’s been kind of like that. The Pirates started a lineup tonight against Brett Cecil that, on paper, looked completely punchless and overmatched. That lineup proceeded to score six runs thanks to seven extra base hits with the last four runs coming in the sixth and seventh innings after Solo Homer Karstens allowed two solo shots to tie the game in the fifth. They took advantage of some ugly Blue Jay defense, Brandon Wood added in an insurance homer, and that was plenty for Karstens and his bullpen of Chris Resop, Tony Watson, and Jose Veras to hold down the club’s 41st win.
With that win the Pirates won an interleague road series for the first time since 2003. With that win, the Pirates nailed down a winning record in interleague play after going 2-13 against the AL last year. With that win, the Pirates pulled to within two games of the Milwaukee Brewers. With that win, the Pirates finished interleague play with six wins in eight games against the AL East.
In 90 minutes, it’s going to be July and the Pittsburgh Pirates are two games over .500 and two games out of first place, one day shy of the halfway point of the 2011 season.