The Pirates reached the half way mark in the season at one game over .500. That’s great news. The bad news is that they lost a winnable game and let another solid effort from a starter go unrewarded. The Nationals scratched out a run in the ninth to take the opener of the series 2-1. Washington was aided by two former Pirates – Tom Gorzelanny and Matt Stairs.
Both teams threatened in the first. But neither scored. Chase D’Arnaud singled with one out and Andrew McCutchen walked. But Matt Diaz hit into a double play. With Charlie Morton toeing the slab for the first time in ten games, the Nats looked to capitalize on his rustiness. Roger Bernadina and Jayson Werth started the game with singles. But Ryan Zimmerman hit into a double play and Morton escaped unharmed.
Pittsburgh’s lone run came in the third. Michael McKenry led off with a single. Morton’s sac bunt was tossed wildly by Gorzelanny and everyone was safe, with McKenry standing on third. Alex Presley’s ground ball scored McKenry. After D’Arnaud whiffed, McCutchen reached on an error by Michael Morse at first. With runners on the corners and two outs, Gorzelanny buckled down and struck out Diaz.
Morton would not allow another hit until Bernadina led off the sixth with a game tying dinger.
Pittsburgh danced out of trouble in the eighth. Daniel Moskos replaced Daniel McCutchen who tossed a scoreless seventh. Rick Ankiel started the eighth with a single. Josh Harrison dropped the throw on Bernadina’s bunt and both runners were safe. Moskos exited and Chris Resop entered. He struck out Werth, Zimmerman and Laynce Nix to end the inning.
The ninth wouldn’t be so pleasant. Morse led off the inning with a single off of Tim Wood. He moved to second on a wild pitch. Alex Cora pinch ran for Morse after Danny Espinosa was walked. Former Pirate Matt Stairs was summoned to pinch hit one out later and his line drive scored Cora for a walk off single.
Morton was pulled after 5-2/3 innings. He gave up three hits and one run. He struck out one and walked two. Gorzelanny completed seven innings and gave up a single unearned run. He gave up six hits and struck out eight. Wood took the loss for Pittsburgh. Drew Storen pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.
Morton was solid.
The defense turned three double plays.
The offense scored just one run.
Morton remains 0-2 against Washington and Gorzelanny is still 1-0 against the Bucs.
Stairs came into the game with only one RBI on the year in 61 at bats.
I believe Stairs is the last pre-1994 Strike Montreal Expo to still be in the Major Leagues. He played in Montreal in 1992 and 1993.
Ryan Zimmerman was picked #4 in the first round of the 2005 draft, one slot after former Pirate Jeff Clement.
Pirate catchers not named Ryan Doumit or Chris Snyder are hitting .172 in 93 at bats.