Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/11/12

The Pittsburgh Pirates own the major leagues' worst offense, and they strike out enough to whip up small tornadoes through Western Pennsylvania. So it shouldn't surprise anyone that, in their 4-2 loss to the Nationals and Stephen Strasburg on Thursday night, they struck out in 15 of their 30 at-bats.

Strasburg, pitching at PNC Park for the first time, had 13 of the K's over six scoreless innings. That included a run of seven strikeouts in a row.

"He has everything," Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said. "And when you have an arm like that, combined with a head for pitching, the progress that he's made at this level ... it's impressive. Really is."

Most impressive was Strasburg's escape from his lone lapse in the sixth, when he walked the bases loaded and brought up Garrett Jones, one of the Pirates' few hitters capable of breaking a game open. But Strasburg went right after Jones with a 2-2 fastball and got a foul-tip strikeout.

The Pirates have struck out 242 times, eighth most in the majors, but that figure is skewed because they've taken only 1,000 at-bats, about 100 below the league average.

Bottom line: An offense that already lacks power simply can't afford to make zero contact. The Pirates need to put the ball in play, if only to find a hole or a miscue or anything else that might help them address a .280 on-base percentage that is by far baseball's worst.

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