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Claudio Vargas, Strikeout King

I like Claudio Vargas.  I liked the trade that brought him here, and I've always thought that, at the very least, he'll be a younger, cheaper version of Doug Davis.  But...20 K's in two starts?  Claudio's mama wouldn't have predicted that.

But that's what we've got.  It's easy enough to write off Vargas's 9 K's in the Florida start to Doug Eddings's supersized strike zone, but Brian Runge's zone tonight was pretty normal.  The Pirates watched third strikes, they swung through third strikes--they struck out in just about every conceivable way.  Vargas's only serious mistake all night was the home run ball to Jason Bay, and that wasn't a terrible pitch.  He allowed a single and two walks in one frame, then struck out the side.

We've talked a lot about how great it is to have a deep rotation: indeed, I've said repeatedly the Brewers have one of the deepest starting corps in the game, as well as one of the best 1-5's.  But if Vargas is going to be anything close to this good, that takes things to a whole 'nuther level.  Six innings, one earned run, 11 K's and 2 walks -- that's not the performance of a pitcher simply keeping a spot warm for Yovani Gallardo.

It's also only fair to note that the entire outfield had great nights at the plate.  Bill Hall reminds us that he's a great hitter, first two weeks be damned: he was 3 for 4.  (He's up to .277, if you're keeping score at home.)  Kevin Mench stayed ridiculously hot, going 3 for 4.  Repetition is great in this case: Corey Hart got three knocks in four times up as well.  

The Brewers total tonight: 15 hits in 36 at-bats.  The only drawback, I suppose, is that they didn't draw a single walk.  But when you're driving balls to the gap in every other at-bat and fouling off pitches left and right, you don't need to sneak your way to first with a base on balls.

Tonight's win means that this is yet another series that we can't lose: only the Cubs series has gone against us.  It'd be nice to win one instead of just tie everything, but it's sure nice not to blow it against bad teams night in, night out.  We've lived through that for too long, and things are finally starting to look up.  On the back of--who else?--Claudio Vargas.