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by Zane Heiple

Photo by Getty Images
While there has been little for us Pittsburgh Pirates fans to complain about with the 2011 Buccos, considering that it is July and the team is over .500, lack of offense is the one area that the team vastly needs to improve.  Injuries have been a major culprit for the lack of runs over the course of the season, along with the use of bench and AAA players.  Tonight’s lineup was straight out of spring training split squad game, as four position players began the year in the minor leagues and one is a platoon player.  This combination helped make Washington Nationals starter Tom Gorzelanny and the rest of the Nats pitching staff look like all-stars, and waste a decent outing by the Pittsburgh arms.

Charlie Morton was back on the mound tonight after a ten day rest to clear up some issues he was having over his last three starts.  While at times he looked shaky, with getting deep into counts, he was able to go 5.2 innings with only allowing one run on three hits.  The one mistake he made turned into a solo home run in the sixth inning by Washington outfielder Roger Bernadina.  Chris Resop came in during the eighth inning after Daniel McCutchen allowed one batter to single and another to reach on an error by Josh Harrison.  Resop got out of the jam by striking out three Nationals batter to give Pittsburgh a chance in the ninth.

The Bucco bats appeared to be stuck in customs after returning stateside from Toronto.  The only run they managed came in the third inning.  Michael McKenry went from first to third on a poorly fielded bunt attempt by Gorzelanny.  He then came around to score when Alex Presley grounded out to first.  Sadly this was the only run Pittsburgh managed on the night as their offense only managed six hits, left six men on base, and were 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position.

Pittsburgh was somehow still in this game when Tim Wood entered in the ninth.  He would give up a single to Michael Morse, who advanced to second on a badly thrown wild pitch.  Clint Hurdle then elected to intentionally walk Danny Espinosa, which was followed by a fly out to right field by Wilson Ramos.  This led to former Bucco Matt Stairs driving a single off of the right field wall to give the Nationals a 2-1 win.

Tonight was a frustrating night again for fans because of the lack of offense.  The Nationals gave Pittsburgh opportunities to score runs tonight, but they did not cash in.  Neither of these teams is good enough to give the other team chances to score runs, but the Nats capitalized when Pittsburgh did.  The offense has to shoulder the blame tonight, as the pitching staff did all they could to lead this team to victory.  Tomorrow will be a tough day for both teams as the rosters will be taxed in a double header.  First game is scheduled to start at 3:35.

Record vs. Nationals:  2-3
Record vs. N.L. East:  8-13
Record on the Road:  22-20
Overall Record:  41-40

And…

As Always…

Let’s Go Bucs!!!