Cutch goes deep twice, Bucs split series

Andrew McCutchen continues to dominate the Washington Nationals.  In the first, he took Jordan Zimmermann deep to right field for his fourth homer of the year, putting the Bucs up 1-0 early.  James McDonald was dealing in the early innings, striking out 7 Nats through 3 innings on some nasty breaking pitches.

Rod Barajas kept up his hot streak at the plate with a two run homer in the fourth to make it 3-0.  Barajas would pick up two more hits in the game.  McDonald had a no-hitter through five innings, with one walk given up to Bryce Harper.  Cutch homered a second time (his 5th multi-homer game of his career) in the sixth, an absolute rocket to left field to make it 4-0.  The Nationals finally got to McDonald, getting runners on second and third with two down in the sixth.  Ryan Zimmerman drove in both runs with a single, cutting the Bucs’ lead in half.  Adam LaRoche continued to kill the Pirates, tripling to left on a bad play by Jose Tabata, chasing McDonald from the game and making it 4-3.  J-Mac only got 17 outs, but 11 came on strikeouts.  Tony Watson got the last out of the inning, getting Harper to pop out and strand LaRoche at third.

Neil Walker picked up an insurance run in the seventh, beating out a double play to pick up the RBI.  The back end of the Pirates bullpen closed out the rest of the game, with Juan Cruz, Jason Grilli, and Joel Hanrahan each pitching a scoreless inning.  The Bucs split the series in DC, and head to Detroit for a weekend series.

McDonald’s final line: 5 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 11 K, 1 BB

Pirates (18-20) – Nationals (23-15)

Win: McDonald (3-2)
Loss: Zimmermann (2-4)
Save: Hanrahan (8)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

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LaRoche kills Bucs, Pirates lose 7-4

After winning 3 games in a row, the Pirates have taken 2 steps back with back to back losses.  Bryce Harper picked up his first career triple off of Erik Bedard in the first inning on a fly ball that Jose Tabata jumped for but took off his head.  Ryan Zimmerman drove him in with an RBI groundout.  Nats lefty Gio Gonzalez struck out 5 Pirates through 3 innings, and Ian Desmond made it 2-0 Washington with a solo homer in the bottom of the third.

Josh Harrison finally got the Bucs on the board with a single to center in the fifth, scoring Yamaico Navarro.  Bedard started to cruise after Desmond homer, until he gave up back to back solo home runs to Adam LaRoche and Xavier Nady, both former Pirates, in the sixth.  Down 4-1 in the seventh, Harrison hit a two run bomb to get the Pirates within a run (and he crushed it).  Evan Meek, who just got recalled from Triple-A today, replaced Bedard after six innings, and loaded the bases after walking two and hitting a batter.  Adam LaRoche struck again, with a bases clearing double for his 1,000th career hit.

The top of the eighth was the last real chance for the Pirates to come back, down 7-3.  After Tabata and Andrew McCutchen singled, Casey McGehee hit a sacrifice fly to left to score Tabata and make it 7-4.  Pedro Alvarez, who didn’t start tonight against the lefty, pinch hit.  He swung at the first pitch he saw (right in his wheelhouse), and rolled over it for a 4-3 groundout.  Henry Rodriguez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, closing out the Bucs.

Not a horrible start by Bedard, although he clearly didn’t have his best stuff coming back from a back injury.  Meek’s return wasn’t impressive, although his slider looked nasty.  Adam LaRoche is clearly the player of the game, driving in 4 runs.  He continues his uncharacteristically hot start, hitting .339.  Also look for Harrison to get a few more starts, most likely at shortstop because of his solid offense recently and Barmes’ terrible start to the season.

Pirates (17-20) – Nationals (23-14)

Win: Gonzalez (5-1)
Loss: Bedard (2-5)
Save: Rodriguez (9)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Series Preview: Pirates vs. Nationals

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Washington Nationals

May 16, 2012 7:05 pm
May 17, 2012 7:05 pm
Nationals Park

Probable Pitchers
Erik Bedard (2-4, 2.57 ERA) vs. Gio Gonzalez (4-1, 1.94 ERA)
James McDonald (2-2, 2.42 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (2-3, 2.14 ERA)

Series Notes
The Pirates and Nationals square off once again after the Nationals visited PNC Park last week… The Bucs took two of three last week from the Nats… The Pirates make their first trip to DC this season… Erik Bedard, after injuring himself last Wednesday against the Washington, makes the start on Wednesday… Bedard is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 20 K in his last 3 starts… Gio Gonzalez has four wins in five decisions this season… James McDonald has been dominate as of late, and has recorded 33 strikeouts in his last 29 innings… Jordan Zimmermann has allowed just 37 hits in 46 1/3 innings this season… Clint Barmes is 4 for 4 with a homer and 4 RBI vs. Zimmermann in his career… The Nats added to their growing disabled list when Wilson Ramos tore his ACL, and he is likely out for the season… Bryce Harper hit his first MLB home run at Nationals Park on Monday.

Go Bucs

Game Recap: Pirates vs. Nationals 5/10/12

Despite some chilly temperatures throughout the game, it was another picture perfect night for baseball in Pittsburgh:

We had a little different view for tonight’s game, but we were just a few sections over from 134. Here’s catcher Michael McKenry warming up:

As well as tonight’s starter, Kevin Correia:

Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg was set to take on the Bucs:

Former Steeler Hines Ward was on hand to throw out tonight’s ceremonial first pitch:

The pitching matchup of Correia vs. Strasburg seemed way lopsided, but the first couple innings said differently.  Correia threw 4 scoreless innings to start, and Strasburg went 3.  The Pirates struck first in the fourth, with Jose Tabata singling up the middle to lead off.  After Alex Presley sacrificed him over to second, Andrew McCutchen singled to right.  Instead of getting the ball into second base, Bryce Harper tried to gun down Tabata at the plate, even though he was safe by a few feet.  Cutch took advantage of the rookie mistake and took and extra base.  Pedro Alvarez struck out swinging for the second out, but Neil Walker picked him up.  He singled to center, scoring Cutch and making it 2-0.

The two pitchers both threw scoreless fifth innings, but Correia ran into some trouble in the sixth.  Roger Bernadina led off with a solo home run into the bullpen.  Correia walked Ryan Zimmerman, and gave up a two run homer to Adam LaRoche to surrender the lead and make it 3-2 Nationals.  Strasburg walked the bases loaded with two outs in the bottom half, but got Garrett Jones to strike out after a few pitches fouled off.  That was the Pirates only real chance to get the lead back, with Strasburg already closing in on 100 pitches and suffering some control issues.

Tony Watson pitched in the eighth, and gave up a two out double to LaRoche.  Watson did a great job to strike out Harper swinging, making sure the deficit stayed at one.  Chris Resop pitched the ninth, and gave up a solo home run to Rick Ankiel, even though it ended up not mattering.  Henry Rodriguez shut down the Pirates in the ninth, even though he did give up a deep fly ball out to Jones.  Pirates lose 4-2, and can’t sweep the series.

Other highlights:
- Jose Tabata continued to hit well at the top of the lineup, picking up 2 more hits.
– Stephen Strasburg had a double of his own, and not to mention struck out 17 Pirates.
– Correia’s final line: 7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 K, 2 BB.
– Strasburg’s final line: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 13 K, 3 BB.,

It was once again Pierogies vs. Presidents at PNC Park tonight. Sauerkraut Saul picked up the win.

Tonight’s Baseball Quiz

Q: In what year did the Pirates pitching staff strike out the most batters in franchise history?

Star of the Game: Stephen Strasburg.  He clearly didn’t have his best stuff tonight, but even a decent night on the mound for him is enough to win a game.  He went 6 solid innings, and was able to prevent the Bucs from scoring when they had the bases loaded.
Goat of the Game: Garrett Jones.  The only real chance the Pirates had to come back was with Jones up with the bases loaded, and he couldn’t come through.  He also flew out when he could have tied the game in the ninth, and struck out 3 times.

Pirates (14-17) – Nationals (19-12)

Win: Strasburg (3-0)
Loss: Correia (1-3)
Save: Rodriguez (7)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs

Game Recap: Pirates vs. Nationals 5/9/12

The Bucs and Nats took each other on for the second game of the three game series, with Erik Bedard taking the hill against Ross Detwiler.

Bedard was dealing from the start, throwing just 5 pitches in the first and getting all three outs on ground balls to second base.  Adam LaRoche lead off the second, and Bedard had to leave the game in the middle of the at-bat.  Thankfully, it was reported that Bedard was only having back spasms, and not something more serious.  He suffered the same injury a few years ago, and came back to pitch 9 days later.  Brad Lincoln replaced Bedard, striking out LaRoche on just two pitches.  The Pirates couldn’t get anything going in the first or second, while Lincoln pitched a 1-2-3 third.  Lincoln struck out in the bottom half, but reached on the dropped third strike.  Jose Tabata followed with a liner up the middle that deflected off Detwiler and went into right field.  Lincoln never slowed down and got to third, putting runners on the corners.  Neil Walker followed up with an RBI single, and Tabata went first to third again.  Andrew McCutchen followed with an RBI single of his own, moving Walker to third and making it 2-0 Pirates.  Pedro Alvarez, hitting in the cleanup spot again, grounded out to third base, but Ryan Zimmerman made a smart play to get Walker, who broke for the plate, in a run down and eventually get him out.  So with Cutch on second and Pedro on first, Casey McGehee stepped up.  He grounded one into the hole, and Ian Desmond fielded it backhand.  He had no play at first, but Cutch touched third and kept on running home.  Desmond hesitated, and McCutchen slid into home safely.  A gutsy play, but it payed off and the Pirates had a 3-0 lead.

Desmond led off the fourth, and left fielder Yamaico Navarro robbed him of a home run.  Lincoln then walked Bryce Harper, the first Nationals baserunner of the night.  After Zimmerman struck out, LaRoche reached on an error to put runners on the corners.  Former Bucco Xavier Nady lined one into right, getting Washington on the board to make it 3-1.

Jared Hughes relieved Lincoln in the fifth, and struck out the side swinging.  He also pitched a scoreless sixth, and the score stayed 3-1 through six innings.  Juan Cruz came out for the seventh and got himself into the Danger Zone.  After giving up a leadoff double, Cruz let the runner advance on a wild pitch and walked Wilson Ramos.  He was able to limit the damage though, just giving up a sac fly to Chad Tracy to make it 3-2.

Jason Grilli pitched the eighth, but with no shortage of excitement.  He gave up a double and two walks to load the bases.  He then struck out Danny Espinosa for the second out, and got Rick Ankiel to chase a high fastball for out number three and the SACK.

Just for insurance, Cutch smacked a solo shot into left field to make it 4-2, his second homer of the year.  Joel Hanrahan came out for the save in the ninth, but with a heavy heart.  His grandmother had just passed away, and he would be missing the next few games.  But tonight, Joel had a job to do.  He started out very wild, throwing what should have been four balls, but instead getting Ramos to ground out.  His slider hit Steve Lombardozzi on the foot, and he gave up a double to Ian Desmond.  19 year old phenom Bryce Harper stepped up to the plate as the go-ahead run, but Hammer wasn’t afraid of him.  He got him to pop up to short, and blew a fastball by Ryan Zimmerman to strike him out and pick up the save.  You could rrrrrraise the Jolly Roger, 4-2 Pirates.

Other highlights:
– Cutch went 4-4.
– Neil Walker only had one hit, but had a few good at-bats and looked good at the plate.
– The bullpen was awesome tonight, picking up Bedard and going 8 innings.

Star of the Game: Andrew McCutchen.  He was single handedly responsible for scoring 2 runs, and went 4-4.  Can’t ask for much more from your star player.
Goat of the Game:  Danny Espinosa.  He left 5 guys on base.  The Pirates pitching was pretty good all night, so the Nats had to cash in on every chance they had.  Espinosa didn’t help the cause.

The last game of the series is tomorrow night.  Kevin Correia will try to get the sweep of the Nats, but will have to face the best young pitcher in the game, Stephen Strasburg.  Bring your brooms to the park tomorrow, and watch the Bucs go for the sweep!

Pirates: (14-16) – Nationals (18-12)

Win: Lincoln (2-0)
Loss: Detwiler (3-2)
Save: Hanrahan (6)

BOX SCORE

Go Bucs