While the Washington Nationals have endured a dip in their
production at the plate, they may feel better about the possibility
of breaking out against their next opponent.
The Nationals had plenty of success against the Pittsburgh
Pirates last season, and these clubs begin a weekend set Friday
night at PNC Park.
Washington (9-9) is hitting .218 this season for one of the
worst marks in the majors, and was limited to two singles in
Thursday’s 5-0 loss at St. Louis. The Nationals have totaled seven
hits in consecutive losses after averaging 9.3 during a four-game
win streak that preceded the defeats.
“Right now we’re in a period where they pitched and we didn’t
hit,” manager Jim Riggleman said. “It was only a few days before
that we were putting double figures in hits out there.”
The Nationals should be happy to see the Pirates (8-11).
Washington took five of six meetings in 2010, posting a .316
average, .378 on-base percentage and .519 slugging percentage – all
season bests against any opponents.
“We are not in bad shape,” right fielder Jayson Werth told the
Nationals’ official website. “We have been grinding out games and
winning games by doing the little things. I don’t know any one
person on this team who has reached their potential with the bat so
far this season. If we get that going, we’ll be fine.
Michael Morse was 6 for 14 in those games and Danny Espinosa 4
for 9. Ryan Zimmerman was 10 for 24 with six RBIs, but won’t come
off the disabled list this week after being out since April 9 due
to a strained abdominal muscle.
The Pirates also know about being shut out after losing two
straight by 6-0 scores at Florida. Their offense bounced back
Thursday, but it wasn’t enough in a 9-5 loss in the finale.
“We’re looking to win ballgames,” manager Clint Hurdle said.
“This is not a league where you try hard, this league you’ve got to
Center fielder Andrew McCutchen returned after missing
Wednesday’s loss to visit his sick father. He went 0 for 5 to drop
his average to .212, and was 4 for 23 against Washington last
He and the Pirates will try to give Livan Hernandez (2-1, 2.88
ERA) another rude welcome to PNC Park. Hernandez is 1-4 in eight
starts at the stadium with a 6.17 ERA – his third-highest in any
current NL park.
The veteran right-hander has allowed one run to win each of his
last two starts while failing to issue a walk, pitching seven
innings in Sunday’s 5-1 victory over Milwaukee.
He’ll be opposed by Jeff Karstens (1-0, 4.50), who will make his
second start since joining the rotation Sunday after Ross Ohlendorf
landed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. Karstens gave
up five runs over 4 1-3 innings and matched a career high with six
strikeouts in a 7-6 victory at Cincinnati.
The right-hander is 0-1 with a 6.55 ERA in two starts against
Karstens will try to pick up a rotation that posted a 15.43 ERA
during the sweep in Florida.
The Pirates have the worst home mark in the majors at 1-5.