Photo by Gene J. Krupar, AP Box Wrap (by David Briggs) New Pirate Shawn Chacon threw 45 of his 79 pitches for strikes in his debut, in which he held Atlanta to one run on three hits and four walks over five innings.
|PIRATES 3 BRAVES 2|
Pitches-strikes: Hudson 101-65, Paronto 8-5, Ray 20-13, Chacon 79-45, Grabow 18-11, Capps 11-8, Marte 3-3, Torres 1-1, Gonzalez 16-11.
Marte 0-0, Torres 0-1, Gonzalez 1-0.
Inherited runners-scored: Marte 1-0, Torres 1-0.
Shawn Chacon just nailed his first win for his new team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, holding the Atlanta Braves to just 1 run over 5 innings in which he pitched into and out of trouble, as is his wont. Batting against Tim Hudson, the Pirates were unlikely to produce too many runs, and it was therefore especially important to control the hitting by the Braves, who can be prolific with their scoring! I think Chacon responds to the pressure! Joe Torre, manager of his recent team the Yankees, did not enjoy the anxiety. Imagine if Steve Trachsel were on the Yanks’ rotation, as I have often wished he were!
I can’t even tell you the last time Chacon started a game on normal 5-day rest. The last time he stayed in a game long enough to qualify for a win, he lost, 3-2 to the Marlins, on 6 days’ rest on June 24th. He had started the game the night before but stopped due to postponement for rain. The next evening, the Marlins changed pitchers, but not the Yankees, who also did not muster enough runs to keep him from being penalized for allowing 3 runs. Penalized? Yes, penalized. They announced that his next start would be skipped, insulting him and virtually ensuring a poor start, as 8 days would pass before he would pitch next. Predictably, he pitched poorly, was pulled early, and was demoted to the bullpen. (As I have often said, the bullpen is a demotion only if it is not where you started or not where you want to be.) Relief appearances were spotty, with the exception of an impossible Underdog-like save-the-day bases-loaded no-outs performance recently in Texas. See what I mean? I think he likes pressure! Anyone who cared to keep Chacon on staff and productive would have studied his record on the Rockies, where he, too, had spotty times, but excelled as both a starter and a reliever under one very identifiable condition: a regular assignment with predictable workdays. Thus, he saved 35 games for the Rockies in 2004. It says a lot that the Yankees did not look to him for 9th inning pitching on days they were not using Mariano Rivera. Pardon the pun, please, but it looks like he was set-up, man. In fact, the way the Yankees spread his starts farther and farther apart, leading to irregular bullpen work and trading rumors is what we at Sophie’s call "dirty pool." Different sport, same idea.
I hope Pittsburgh manager Jim Tracy is as welcoming as he has sounded. Perhaps Chacon and Xavier Nady — just traded from the Mets — will find appreciative niches as Pirates. In the meantime, go Pirates!