Again, while the line score might not indicate it, Taylor Jordan pitched well enough to win tonight.
Instead, the Nationals’ rookie right-hander dropped to 0-3 on the season with tonight’s 5-1 loss.
Jordan allowed five runs (four earned) over 7 2/3 innings, but he got minimal help from his defense and the Nationals’ bats.
Two Pirates runs followed Anthony Rendon’s second-inning error, an miscue that came on a potential inning-ending double play, and another run charged to Jordan came around from first base after the 24-year-old had already been pulled from the game in the eighth.
“Well, that was a tough one,” Davey Johnson said. “I feel for our guy because he should’ve only gave up one run. We made the error, gave him two more earned runs. He pitched so good in the seventh, I was going to take him out after the left-hander, but I thought he deserved a chance to win that ballgame. Just made one bad pitch to him, hung a changeup up to (Pedro) Alvarez. But Taylor pitched one heck of a ballgame, right when it was needed - our bullpen was in shambles - and did a great job. He deserved better.”
Jordan continues to get some awful luck in his outings. I guess he’s not unlike a number of Nats pitchers in that regard, but the fact that he’s delivered a solid outing in all five big league starts and still hasn’t gotten to celebrate his first win has to be tough for the rest of the guys in the Nationals clubhouse to take.
“Yeah, and also a little bit of inexperience because he’s, his only time he’s got hurt is when he’s been up two strikes on the hitter and then he makes a pretty foul pitch,” Johnson said. “But that was a stellar performance tonight. Just outstanding.
“His slider has gotten a lot better. His slider has got a good bite on it, and he’s locating it well. Still got a great changeup, fastball.”
Rendon’s error came when he was trying to turn a 5-4-3 double play and merely took his eyes off Ryan Zimmerman’s throw. The ball dropped to the ground, allowing a run to score and the inning to continue. We’ve seen very few of those types of mistakes around the second base bag from Rendon, despite the fact that he’s manning a position in the big leagues that he last played when he was 11.
“One of the things is, it takes, I say, 80 ballgames over there to where, that was the mistake an inexperienced second baseman will make on a throw from third,” Johnson said. “You assume you’re going to catch it, and you peek towards the runner. It’s always that transition - you’ve got to see it in the glove before you do it. And he’s been pretty good about it, this was the first sort of blip where he peeked.
“It’s not easy, and not having basically no experience over there, he’s done a great job. And that’s, I had the same problem with Brooksie (Brooks Robinson) because he would fling it from every direction and that ball could sometimes sail, because you get rid of it quick. But he’s doing fine.”
Yet again, the Nats’ offense failed to come through, managing just three hits and one run. They hit Pirates rookie Gerrit Cole pretty hard at times, but the results just weren’t there.
“I tip my hat. That guy’s got good stuff,” Johnson said of Cole. “He was locating, a couple fastballs, one runner, one the bottom fell out and he had good breaking stuff to go with it. I can see why he was the No. 1 pick.”
The Nats would love to be pumping music in the clubhouse tonight, celebrating Jordan’s first big league victory and a win that snapped a losing streak. Instead, Jordan is still winless, and more importantly, the Nats fell to four games under .500 and saw their losing streak climb to five games.
“Yeah, I try not to dwell on that,” Johnson said. “Tomorrow’s another day. But (Jordan) saved the bullpen, had a great outing, and you just tip your hat to the opposing pitcher, move on.”