The Pittsburgh Pirates returned to action tonight after four days off for the All-Star break. They would begin the second half of the season with a three game series on the road against the Washington Nationals. Pittsburgh entered the break on a hot streak, but Washington has played well for most of the first half and sat in first place of the National League East.
Pitching dominated the first six innings as each pitcher allowed only one run. The Pirates would send Francisco Liriano to the mound, while the Nationals would counter with Stephen Strasburg. Strasburg is putting up Cy Young numbers, as he entered the night 12-0 with a 2.62 ERA. The Buccos lone run of the night came in the top of the fifth when Jordy Mercer singled home Starling Marte on a hit to right.
That one run would sure not be enough to take down Washington. Strasburg was dominant over his eight innings of work. He would allow one run to go with six strikeouts, two walks, and three hits. The seventh inning is when Pittsburgh imploded. Liriano led off the inning with a four pitch walk, and for some reason was allowed to face a second batter in the inning. That hitter would end his night with a base hit.
That would only be the beginning of what would be the seventh inning fiasco. A Freese fielding error on a Strasburg bunt gave the Nationals the lead, while another rendition of Keystone Cops would occur when Eric Fryer threw a ball away when trying to throw out a runner at third. That run would score, which was followed by a Michael Taylor two run homer to put the Pirates away for good 5-1.
This was not the type of game the Buccos wanted to play coming off four days of rest. The first six innings looked like they were ready and willing to compete with one of the best teams in the National League. That all slipped away in a seventh inning that was mired by a bad decision by Clint Hurdle and some ugly defense. Hopefully Pittsburgh will shower well tonight as they get ready to do battle with Washington again tomorrow night.
Record vs. Nationals: 0-1
Record vs. N.L. East: 7-8
Record on the Road: 22-24
Overall Record: 46-44
Let’s Go Bucs!