Duke wasn't overpowering. The 22-year-old lefty doesn't throw 95 MPH heat, and by all indications, he'll never be the kind of pitcher who confuses a broken bat with a baseball.
What Duke does, however, is get outs, and he scattered plenty of them through the Mets order.
The one-time 20th round pick retired the first 11 Mets to face him before Carlos Beltran reached on an error in the fourth inning, continuing on to allow just two hits and a walk over seven innings as the Bucs downed the Mets, 5-0.
Willie Randolph wasn't allowing himself to get caught up in the hype, insinuating that the Mets had made it easy for Duke.
"I didn't think he was anything dazzling, nothing exceptional about him," Randolph told reporters. "But he just mixes his pitches in real nice and kept us off stride."
But how then, to explain this: Duke is now 6-0 with a 1.87 ERA after nine starts for Pittsburgh; the longest winning streak for a Pirates rookie since Don Robinson won seven straight in 1978. He also notched his first big league hit, a bloop single to center in the seventh inning.
Meanwhile, presented with a chance to help the Mets secure a series sweep of Pittsburgh, Victor Zambrano never really found his rhythm over six muddled innings. The right-hander allowed four runs and six hits, walking one but hitting a pair of batters.
Minor League Report
TRIPLE-A NORFOLK: Steve Trachsel's final rehab assignment went fine at Toledo on Thursday, with the right-hander allowing two runs – both home runs – and five hits over seven innings, striking out six. The 34-year-old took the loss, however, as the Tides managed just one run against Toledo starter Kenny Baugh.
DOUBLE-A BINGHAMTON: The Mike Jacobs-less Binghamton Mets were off on Thursday, returning home from their trip to Portland. The B-Mets open a three-game series against Trenton on Friday.
CLASS-A ST. LUCIE: Gaby Hernandez allowed three runs on four hits over five innings, suffering the loss as St. Lucie dropped a decision to Palm Beach Thursday, 8-2. The Cardinals put the game out of reach with three runs in the eighth inning off Kole Strayhorn; 2B Kevin Rios was 4-for-4 with a run scored for St. Lucie.
CLASS-A HAGERSTOWN: Joe Mihalics' sacrifice fly brought home Jim Burt with the winning run as Hagerstown edged Hickory, 5-4, in 10 innings Thursday. Josh Wyrick homered and Burt was 2-for-3 with two runs scored for the Suns, who got four shutout innings out of starter Matt Durkin.
CLASS-A BROOKLYN: Michael Sharpe's RBI single plated Ivan Naccarata with the winning run in the 11th inning as the Cyclones defeated Williamsport Thursday at KeySpan Park, 4-3. Sal Aguilar fired 4-1/3 innings of shutout relief and Travis Hope added another three; CF Greg Gonzalez went 5-for-6 at the plate for the Cyclones.
ROOKIE-LEAGUE KINGSPORT: Sean Henry's three-run homer highlighted a six-run Kingsport eighth inning as the K-Mets defeated Johnson City Thursday, 10-6. DH David Wabick was 3-for-4 with a run scored and C Sean McCraw added two hits, as every starter in Kingsport's lineup notched at least one hit.