Take a gander at Rich’s preview of this game because I think we have unlocked the key to Francisco Liriano’s success. As long as Rich continues to have no confidence in Liriano, he will have success.
The Nationals are plummeting right now and the Pirates are taking advantage, having taken the first three games of this four game series. If you think the Pirates offense is bad, the Nats have been worse lately. Pedro Alvarez hit a home run off of Stephen Strasburg in the second inning and it was the only run of the game until the ninth. Strasburg pitched eight innings and struck out 12 but the one home run still got him the loss. The Pirates added some insurance in the ninth. Neil Walker doubled to bring in Starling Marte. Then Mike McKenry brought in two runs on a single with the bases loaded to disprove everything that I’ve ever believed. The insurance runs would be necessary because Jayson Werth hit a two run home run off of Justin Wilson in the bottom of the ninth before Mark Melancon came on to shut it down.
Player of the Game: Francisco Liriano
Liriano rebounded beautifully from a poor outing in his last start. Even taking into consideration the Nationals pathetic offense, Liriano was still spectacular. He took a no hitter into the sixth inning and the hit that he gave up very well could have been an out. He ended up pitching 7 2/3, allowed no runs, and struck out eight batters. What made the performance even more important was that Strasburg wasn’t giving much up on the other side either. Alvarez gave Liriano a small cushion early and that was all he would need.
Play of the Game: Neil Walker
Up until the bottom of the ninth inning, I was planning on Alvarez’s home run being the play of the game. Then Wilson gave up the home run to Werth which ended that. So I was actually going to give McKenry credit for once. But that all changed when the final play of the game pissed off a ton of Nationals fans. With Wilson Ramos on first base and one out in the ninth, Denard Span hit a ground ball to second. Walker fielded the ball and attempted to tag Ramos and came absolutely no where close and just threw on to first for the out. I thought Gaby Sanchez was unaware of how many outs there were when he started walking towards the mound but it turned out that second base umpire Laz Diaz called Ramos out. And that’s just hilarious. But their fans didn’t come up with a hashtag on Twitter for the blown call which is just unacceptable.
Wilson Ramos on whether Laz Diaz correctly called him out to end the game: "Not even close. Maybe he want to go home."
— Dan Kolko (@masnKolko) July 25, 2013
Up Next: Washington Nationals, Thursday, 12:35pm
The Pirates will conclude their four game set looking for the sweep in what should be another good pitching match-up. A.J. Burnett starts for the Pirates looking to regain his form. He’s struggled a bit since returning from the disabled list, having not been able to get out of the sixth inning in any of his three starts since. He has faced the Nationals once this year which was a seven inning performance that resulted in a win for the Bucs.
Gio Gonzalez will be pitching for the Nats since he has yet to suffer the same fate as Ryan Braun through the biogenesis nonsense. Gonzalez has been one of the best lefties in the National League since coming to Washington. This year has been no difference. He has faced the Pirates once this year and he won that start.