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16 September 2005: Three Games Pirates Fans Should Care About

[UPDATE, 5:30 PM: Duke and Claussen are actually pitching the first game, not the second.]

Game one: Ramon Ortiz (9-10, 5.06) vs. Kip Wells (7-16, 4.85), 5:05 PM. Ortiz continues to prove he doesn't belong in a big-league rotation; Wells is trying to prove he doesn't belong there, either. But I'll keep paying attention in the hopes that one day soon he'll quit walking so many batters and remember what he did right in 2002 and 2003.

Game two: Brandon Claussen (9-9, 4.11) vs. Zach Duke (6-0, 1.81). Here's a nice matchup of two crafty lefties. Claussen is still probably best known for being traded for Aaron Boone, but Claussen and Aaron Harang have quietly pitched well in the Big Red Suicide Machine that is Cincinnati's rotation, providing a nice break from better-known, more expensive duds like Ortiz and Eric Milton. Duke, meanwhile, finally returns; even if he aces his last couple of starts, his injury will likely prevent him from winning the Rookie of the Year award. That's the bad news. The good news is that he just might ace those last couple starts.

Game three: Milwaukee (Rick Helling, 2-0, 2.40) vs. Houston (Roy Oswalt, 17-12, 2.93). Hey, if a doubleheader between the two worst teams in the NL Central doesn't excite you, this one might. After beating Arizona last night, the Brewers stand at 73-73, meaning they have a good shot at finishing at .500 or better for the first time in over a decade. I'll root for them. They haven't spent freely - they just have a bunch of good young talent and a front office that seems to know what it's doing, proving yet again that good planning and development can trump payroll. If the Brewers have a winning team this year, the message to Kevin McClatchy and Dave Littlefield will be clear: "Hey, even the Brewers can do it. What's wrong with you guys?"