The National League Eastern Division-leading Washington Nationals traveled to Pittsburgh this past weekend for a four-game series with the talented Pittsburgh Pirates, a team currently in possession of the senior circuit’s second Wild Card.
Two top teams … four big games … excited fans ready to root for the home team – it held out the promise of a terrific weekend. And for the most part, the play on the field did not disappoint those who watched it.
It all began Thursday night. Washington had just won two out of three home games against the team trailing them in the Eastern Division by just two games, the New York Mets. The Nationals arrived in Pittsburgh confident and ready to take on the home team.
But on this night, their efforts would fall short. Pittsburgh scored early and often and won handily by a final score of 7-3. The Pirates starter, Francisco Liriano whiffed a season-high thirteen batters en route to a pain-free, easy victory.
Washington starting pitcher Doug Fister had nothing working and was chased from the game before the sixth inning began. He was touched up for lots of hits, including a round-tripper by Pedro Alvarez. A home run by Andrew McCutchen contributed to the lopsided final result.
Graphic via espn
Friday night’s game was also disappointing to the visitors. They lost 7-5 as their top starter, Max Scherzer was touched up for three home runs, the first time this season he had surrendered that many long balls in a single game. The home run barrage erased an early lead the Nationals had when they scored four runs in the 4th inning.
Pedro Alvarez, Gregory Polanco and Andrew McCutchen reached the seats for the home team while Ian Desmond did the same for the visitors.
Graphic via statliners
After just two days, it looked like it was going to be a “lost weekend” for the team from the nation’s capital, but Washington got two starting position players back from the disabled list, 2nd baseman Anthony Rendon and third baseman Yunel Escobar and rode the energy boost these players provided to finally come out on top. They beat the Pirates easily by a score of 9-3.
Leadoff hitter Michael Taylor headed the offensive outburst by going 4-5 with three RBIs. Ian Desmond also starred by hitting a home run in his third consecutive game. The offense on this day enabled starter Gio Gonzalez to cruise to his eighth victory of the season while Pirates hurler AJ Burnett suffered his 4th loss of the year.
The Nationals hoped to get out of town with a four game split when they squared off against Pittsburgh in the Sunday finale. However, they were unable to mount much of an attack against Pirates ace Gerrit Cole. He gave up a home run to Michael Taylor and nothing else as the home team won the game 3-1.
The unhappy and unsuccessful weekend in Pittsburgh left the Nationals with a slim two game lead over the New York Mets for Eastern Division supremacy.
Graphic via wtae