PITTSBURGH - Get ready for some offensive numbers that will wow you.
They might also make you shake your head in disgust.
Over 24 career games against the Nationals, Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen is now batting .455 with 11 home runs and 22 RBIs.
McCutchen has gone 2-for-2 tonight with a solo home run and a single, accounting for the lone Pirates run off Ross Detwiler and two-thirds of Pittsburgh’s hits on the evening.
It was really enjoyable watching McCutchen take cuts in the batting cage before today’s game. His swing is so compact and quiet, but he explodes through the ball and generates such impressive power despite not having a large frame.
The guy is just incredibly talented.
He’s absolutely dominated the Nats over the course of his young career, and it might be wise for the Nats to start avoiding giving him much to hit when at all possible.
Give the guy a steady diet of offspeed stuff. Give him a faulty GPS that steers him away from the ballpark.
Just give him something so that he can’t continue depositing balls over the PNC Park fence.
Danny Espinosa brought the Nats even with the Pirates in the fourth inning with an RBI single to right, scoring Adam LaRoche from second.
Espinosa is getting the start at second base after two games riding the bench, so that had to feel good.
Detwiler has thrown 59 pitches through four sharp innings and has five strikeouts. He got his way out of a jam in the fourth by striking out Brandon Inge and Pedro Alvarez, both swinging, to strand two runners.
It’s a 1-1 game in the fifth.
Update: McCutchen is now 3-for-3 after singling in the fifth. His career average against the Nats rises to .461.
He’s decent at baseball, I guess.
The Nats now trail 3-1 after five thanks to Jordy Mercer, a light-hitting middle infielder, who just cracked his second career big league homer.
Mercer hit just .210 in 68 at-bats last season, but he took Detwiler out to left for a two-run shot in the fifth to give the Pirates the lead.
Update II: Davey Johnson let Detwiler go out to start the bottom of the sixth inning, but he didn’t give his left-handed starter much rope before pulling him from the game.
Detwiler walked Russell Martin leading off the sixth, and Johnson quickly hopped out of the dugout and called on Craig Stammen to come in out of the ‘pen. Stammen shut the Pirates down, stranding Martin and closing the book on Detwiler.
His final line: 5-plus IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 84 pitches, 51 strikes. Not bad, but not the type of outing Detwiler expects out of himself.
Meanwhile, Ryan Zimmerman is 0-for-3 with three strikeouts tonight in his first game back off the DL. He made two solid throws across the diamond in the sixth on back-to-back grounders his way. The first required him to come in on a slow tapper and make a sidearm throw. The second was a routine play, and the throw was on-target. No issues there so far.
Update III: It’s still 3-1 Pirates midway through the eighth, as the Nats missed an opportunity to do some damage off Pirates reliever Mark Melancon.
Bryce Harper came up with runners at the corners and two outs in the eighth, representing the go-ahead run. Roger Bernadina stood on third and Desmond was on first after singling to right to keep the rally alive. Melancon bore down, however, burying four cutters in on Harper’s hands and then getting him swinging on a four-seam fastball on the outer half.
The Nats stranded two runners and will head to the ninth trailing at least by two.
For the record, the Nats are winless on the season when trailing after five innings. They’re 0-10 in those situations, and are 0-13 when trailing after eight.
Update IV: The momentum from taking the last two games in Atlanta has quickly evaporated. The Nats lost to the Pirates 3-1 tonight, managing just six hits.
The Nats have now scored three runs or fewer in 11 of their last 13 games, including six straight.
They struck out 14 times as a team tonight, four of which came from Zimmerman, who got stuck with a Golden Sombrero in his first game back from the DL. Zimmerman went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts.