The Pirates got superb performances early Thursday night from James McDonald and Andrew McCutchen, and were able to hang on to the lead and earn a win against the Nats.
For whatever reason, McCutchen destroys the Nationals. He homered twice off Jordan Zimmermann – four of his five homers this year have come against the Nats. His batting average is up to .349 on the year, and against the Nationals he’s hitting .463 for his career.
Rod Barajas also homered off Zimmermann–a two run shot. Barajas is legitimately heating up…his average is all the way up to .214! Ever since that walkoff blast last week, he’s been swinging the bat with much more confidence.
If the power surge wasn’t enough to make Bucco fans happy, James McDonald certainly did. J-Mac was as dominant as he’s ever been to start the game–he was perfect through four with TEN strikeouts. He took a no-hitter into the sixth before promptly falling apart, which was very unfortunate and ruined what could have been an amazing outing. He still finished with 11 K’s, but didn’t finish the 6th and allowed the Nats to cut the lead to one.
The Pirates picked up an insurance run in the seventh, and the bullpen was able to get the job done despite some hiccups in the last three innings. After McDonald fell apart, it felt like the Pirates were bound to blow the game eventually–and the Nats got five baserunners in the final three innings–but the bullpen (Juan Cruz, Jason Grilli, and Joel Hanrahan) held on. Thank goodness they did, because wasting the spectacular efforts by Cutch and J-Mac would have been incredibly depressing.
Pirates 5, Nationals 3 / Box / 2012 Record: 18-20 / Next: Friday, at Tigers, 7:05
MVP: Barajas (+.217) / LVP: McDonald (-.077) / Key play: Barajas’ HR
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