|Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER|
The Nats will try to get things going at the plate against one of the most talented young arms in the game. Former 2011 first overall pick Gerrit Cole (4-3, 3.89 ERA) will take the ball for Pittsburgh, providing an intriguing matchup between he and the 2010 first overall selection in Bryce Harper. Cole was also selected ahead of Anthony Rendon in 2011, another player considered at the time to be in the mix for the first pick.
Cole will be making his eighth major league start while fellow rookie Taylor Jordan (0-2, 3.32) is making his fifth career start for Washington. The Nationals are continuing with Harper in the leadoff spot and Span back in the seven hole.
Updates to come...
PITTSBURGH PIRATES at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500), XM 188
Weather: Mostly clear, 83 degrees, Wind 12 mph LF to RF
LF Bryce Harper
2B Anthony Rendon
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
SS Ian Desmond
CF Denard Span
C Wilson Ramos
RHP Taylor Jordan
LF Starling Marte
RF Jose Tabata
CF Andrew McCutchen
3B Pedro Alvarez
C Russell Martin
1B Garrett Jones
2B Neil Walker
SS Jordy Mercer
RHP Gerrit Cole
HP Tim Timmons
1B Mike Estabrook
2B Mike Winters (cc)
3B Laz Diaz
7:05 p.m. — We are underway with a strike from Taylor Jordan to Starling Marte. It's a beautiful evening here, 83 degrees, blue skies and minimal humidity for a refreshing change.
7:10 p.m. — A nice and tidy, 9-pitch top of the first for Jordan, who got Marte to ground out, got Jose Tabata to strike out and then got Andrew McCutchen to do what few Nats pitchers over the years have gotten him to do: make an out.
7:18 p.m. — And the first batter of the Rick Schu Era, Bryce Harper, singles to center field. Quite a start for the new hitting coach. Except it didn't last. Harper was thrown out trying to steal second. Anthony Rendon struck out looking at a 95 mph fastball from Gerrit Cole. And Ryan Zimmerman grounded out weakly the third base to complete an 11-pitch bottom of the first. Scoreless here as we move to the second.
7:35 p.m. — Man, talk about a frustrating inning for the Nationals. The Pirates just nickel-and-dimed Jordan to death in the top of the second, using three groundball singles, a walk and some shaky defense to score three runs. Rendon was in the middle of it all, and for the most part not in a good way. He over-dove a grounder to his right. He dropped a potential inning-ending 5-4-3 double play feed from Zimmerman. He did, however, make a nice catch of a line drive to start an inning-ending double play, but before that happened, the Nats already put themselves in a 3-0 hole.
7:53 p.m. — On the bright side, Jordan is battling through the mistakes behind him and doing his best to keep this thing close. He just retired the heart of the Pirates lineup in order in the top of the third, keeping this a 3-0 game as we go to the bottom of the inning.
7:59 p.m. — Wilson Ramos gets the Nats on the board with a solo blast to left-center, though McCutchen very nearly robbed him with a spectacular effort at the fence. It took the crowd a couple of seconds to determine whether the ball had cleared or whether McCutchen had hauled it in. He missed it by a couple of inches, so Ramos has his fifth homer of the year, and the Nats have trimmed the lead to 3-1 after three.
8:14 p.m. — I was about to say I hadn't been blown away by Gerrit Cole's stuff so far tonight. Then he dialed it up to 97 mph to strike out Zimmerman and 98 mph to strike out LaRoche. So I stand corrected. The Nats have two hits through four innings and still trail 3-1.
8:29 p.m. — Eight of the last 10 outs Denard Span has made — and eight of the last 14 balls he's put into play — have been groundballs to the right side of the infield. This has been a recurring theme way too much. Still 3-1 after five.
8:43 p.m. — For the first time in his big-league career, Jordan will pitch the seventh inning. He's earned the right, having pitched very well since the second inning (which wasn't all that much his fault anyway). Still 3-1.
8:54 p.m. — And Jordan gets out of a jam in the seventh. He's at only 88 pitches, and there's nobody warming in the pen. We might just see him back out there for the eighth.
9:05 p.m. — And indeed we are going to see him in the eighth.
9:18 p.m. — But Jordan can't quite finish it. After two quick outs, he was given the chance to face Pedro Alvarez, a move that backfired. Alvarez took Jordan's 1-2 changeup the opposite way for his 25th homer. A base hit by Russell Martin ended Jordan's night. He departed to a standing ovation, though his final line won't look as good as it might have after Krol let the inherited runner score. Jordan's line: 7.2 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K. It's now 5-1.
9:30 p.m. — And now the Nats are down to their last three outs. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
9:47 p.m. — It's over. The Nats lose 5-1, their fifth straight loss and 10th in 12 games. They're four games under the .500 mark and sinking fast.