The Pittsburgh Pirates are not a good team. Heck, I had irrationally lofty hopes for them this season when I opined they'd finish with 81 wins; having seen them play a few games this year, that has as much chance of happening as John Kruk fitting into a size XXL t-shirt. But although this year's Bucs are not especially talented as a whole, the top three hitters in their lineup last night against Stephen Strasburg are damn good.
Andrew McCutchen, Neil Walker, and Lastings Milledge (filling in for a concussed Ryan Doumit in the three-hole) are not the schlubs we've been led to believe populate the Pirates' batting order. McCutchen and Walker both have OPS averages above .850 while Milledge is among the hardest outfielders to strike out in the majors. Yet in the sixth inning last night, when nobody watching could have possibly imagined the young pitcher could possibly get better, Strasburg struck out those three hitters.
And then one inning later, he struck out three more, all swinging, including notorious fastball power hitter Garrett Jones and a guy who had already homered on Strasburg earlier in Delwyn Young. I nearly drove off the road when I heard this stunning inning on the radio.
So to downplay Strasburg's historically dominant performance from last night because it "was against a Triple-A team, harf harf harf" cheapens the historical significance of the night. Sure, Strasburg may never accumulate Hall of Fame credentials and sure, the Pirates might never pull themselves out of their endless run of misery. But that debut last night carries heavy importance...even against a team that might be the worst in the National League.
And if you're wondering, the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate in Indianapolis currently sit just one game out of the Wild Card in the International League. I wonder how many of those fellas would have struck out against Strasburg.