Pitching has been a surprising strength for both the Pittsburgh
Pirates and Washington Nationals.
Kevin Correia and Jason Marquis are at the forefront of that
success for their respective clubs.
Correia looks to gain a share of the major league lead in wins
when he starts for the Pirates opposite Marquis and the Nationals
in the finale of this series Sunday.
Pittsburgh (42-41) and Washington (42-42) have rotations that
rank among the best in the NL with ERAs of 3.63 and 3.58,
respectively. Both teams have displayed major improvement from last
season when the Pirates’ starters were last in the majors with a
5.28 ERA, while the Nationals weren’t much better at 4.58.
That strong starting pitching has continued in this series with
the teams combining for 18 total runs in three games, two won by
Pittsburgh took the opener of a doubleheader Saturday, winning
5-3 before dropping the nightcap 4-3.
Runs may be hard to come by again with Correia (10-6, 3.79 ERA)
and Marquis (7-2, 3.62) on the mound.
Correia has already matched his 2010 win total with San Diego,
and a victory Sunday would tie him with four others, including
reigning NL Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay, for the most in
baseball. It would also make the right-hander the Pirates’ first
11-game winner prior to the All-Star break since Jim Bibby in
Despite his surprising success, Correia could see his innings
limited in the second half of the season since he’s already 38 shy
of last season’s total.
“I do think the All-Star break won’t come quick enough for him,
just for strength,” manager Clint Hurdle told the team’s official
website. “We’ll talk about maybe changing some things up if he’s
comfortable with it. It’s just a lot of innings and a lot of
pitches. He’s just not quite as sharp as we’ve seen him in the
Correia is 2-2 with a 4.75 ERA in his last five starts. He’s won
his last two games despite allowing seven earned runs and 14 hits
in 12 innings.
“I don’t feel like I’m slowing down at this point,” Correia
said. “Right now, I feel fine. I don’t know that, at this point,
I’m going to have trouble keeping it going. I don’t think I’m going
to need a break.”
Correia is 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four career starts versus
Washington. He gave up five runs and a season-high 11 hits – two
homers – over 4 2-3 innings in a 6-3 loss April 24 opposite
Marquis continued his success against the Pirates in that
contest, allowing three runs and eight hits over six innings. He is
5-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his last five starts against Pittsburgh.
The right-hander has been dominant at home this year, going 4-0
with a 2.13 ERA in six starts – all Nationals wins.
He wasn’t as sharp on the road against the Los Angeles Angels on
Tuesday, surrendering four runs – three earned – with four walks in
five innings before leaving without a decision in an 11-5 loss.
“Some nights are going to be battles,” Marquis told the team’s
Danny Espinosa went 4 for 7 during Saturday’s doubleheader. The
second baseman is hitting .418 with five homers and 14 RBIs during
Washington’s 12-2 run at home. He batted .184 with four homers
while driving in 14 over his first 24 home games.
Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen is 6 for 11 with three doubles,
one triple, one homer and two RBIs in this series.