Pitchers: Jameson Taillon (4-4, 3.39) kicks off the final PNC string against Gio Gonzalez (11-10, 4.48). Jamo has been money, yielding three earned runs or fewer in 11 of his last 12 starts. He looked a little rusty in his last outing after missing a turn to conserve innings, so hopefully today he'll be a bit crisper. JT has never faced Washington and will have to take on a Bucco bug-a-boo in his Nat debut. Gonzalez has made seven career starts against Pittsburgh and has never surrendered more than three runs or, for that matter, lost to the Pirates, going 4-0, 2.81. Taillon and the Bucs have their work cut out against the Washington southpaw tonight, but it looks like a grand matchup.
|Jamo's on the bump tonight (photo Pittsburgh Pirates)|
Lineup: Adam Frazier 2B, Fran Cervelli C, Cutch CF, Jung Ho Kang 3B, S-Rod SS, Gregory Polanco RF, David Freese 1B, Josh Bell RF, Taillon P. We knew Starling was out and now wonder if Jordy's arm is something to be concerned about. We can't quite figure out how J-Bell ended up in the eight hole (.300 BA, .364 OBP v LHP).
Preview: A couple of clashing Bucco streaks are in play tonight. Pittsburgh is 3-13 in its last 16 home games (and just 36-38 for the year at PNC) but are 10-3 in Jamo’s last 13 starts. The Nats took 2-of-3 earlier in the year, as the Bucs scored just four runs in 36 innings (the last game went 18 frames). The Nats have lost 4-of-5 while the Pirates have taken 7-of-10, so there's that going for them. Washington's magic number to take their division is two, so they're looking to clinch their grab at the brass ring during the series. And one final bit of bright news: the Bucs won't see 18-game winner Max Scherzer this weekend.
- Gregory isn't the only Bucco in the deep freeze. David Freese is 1-for-14 with eight strikeouts in his last six contests.
- Not exactly sure what's wrong with Schugs, but the Bucs put AJ (shoulder) on the 60-day DL to open a spot on the 40-man for Phil Coke.
- Mark Melancon makes his homecoming. He's got a little different role in DC, as Dusty Baker uses him in various spots late in the game, not just in closer situations as was Clint's wont. Even so, The Shark is 12-for-12 in save opps with Washington while posting a 1.99 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 24 outings.
- Daniel Murphy has missed the last four games with an injury that Washington hasn't specified; the Bucs aren't the only team to play that game. He's day-to-day.
- Pittsburgh named Josh Bell as its Minor League Player of the Year and Mitch Keller as the MiL Pitcher of the Year.