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Reds 5, Pirates 0: Third Shutout in Four Games

After delivering eight runs yesterday, the Pirates' offense vanished today, absent not only when Johnny Cueto was pretty filthy in the early innings, but also when he wore down as the game went on. The Bucs managed just four singles and one walk, and Cueto racked up nine strikeouts.

There are a couple problems here: the first is that, for all the talk about the number of shutouts the Pirates have recorded, they've now been shut out themselves in three of their last four games. As someone pointed out in the comments the other day, it's May and the Bucs still only have five players who have hit any homers at all, and those include Ryan Doumit, who's unavailable, and Craig Monroe, a bad hitter by any reasonable measure. 

Then there's Jeff Karstens, who delivered another poor start today and now has a 5.85 ERA on the season, with nine strikeouts against 13 walks. He eked out a good start against the Marlins a couple weeks ago, but other than that absolutely nothing about his performance has been convincing, and he's showing little of the command he had at times last year. He might have fared a bit better today if Brandon Moss had done a better job handling what became a three-run single by Ramon Hernandez, but there's still the fact that Karstens himself let two of the runners who scored reach base with walks. Karstens has only made four starts and the Pirates don't exactly have anyone pounding down the door at Class AAA, so he'll get some more chances, but I'm not sure how many more he deserves.