Newcomer Pirates pitcher Tony Armas watched from the bench on Thursday, May 18, as long reliever Shawn Chacon pitched five scoreless innings in a game that the Pirates would go on to win 7-2. This feat triggered a switch off between the two pitchers with Chacon now a starter and Armas in the bullpen. Armas clearly needs the change in order to work out whatever problems he may be having. With a record of 0-3 in seven starts and a National League-high 8.46 ERA, Thursday night’s game was Armas’s last chance to prove himself worthy of a starting position and inevitably failed.

Armas is one of three of the Pirates’ starting pitchers that can cause some unease when he walks out onto the mound. After all, he has never pitched more than six innings in game and usually has been unable to go more than three this season. The fact that the Pirates’s batters came back to score six runs once Chacon stepped on the mound causes one to wonder whether or not certain pitchers affect the performance of the team‘s offense. Of course, this is no reason for the team to blame the pitcher for their inability to score runs at times, nor does it give the pitchers justification for their own poor performances.

While chilly temperatures paid a factor in Thursday night’s attendance, the measly 9,582 member crowd shows that fans are holding out for tickets to the Ian Snell, and Tom Gorzelanny, and Zach Duke games, though Duke has done little to impress himself this season. The total attendance for the four game series was a PNC Park low of 50,395, odd considering that the Pirates’s record is considerably better than last year’s at this time. Still, the team is just now getting around to playing more entertaining games. While they are not expected to be charismatic superstars on the field, fans flock to the ballparks hoping, if not expecting to see home runs and consistent hitting. With all of the low scoring games that fans have had to endure throughout the beginning of the season, the sudden surge in runs has become a breath of fresh air in the stands and living room sofas alike.

In terms of the pitching situation, however, I believe Chacon will be able to prove himself to stay on as a starter for the rest of the season. If Armas does improve, and manager Jim Tracy decides to give him a second chance, it would be better to give him his second chance in either Paul Maholm or Zach Duke’s spot, if the two of them are still struggling by then. While Maholm did pitch a complete game shut out early in the season and Zach Duke has the potential to be a good, even great pitcher, as seen in his rookie year, this does not justify keeping them in if they are going to continue to lose games. While Armas has not impressed anybody so far this season, let’s not forget that there are others on this team who need to step it up, but I won’t lose hope until October.

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