The Pirates fell to the Nationals today, 3-2. Paul Maholm pitched well, allowing only three runs in seven innings. He was efficient (only 90 pitches) and his breaking ball was especially sharp. However, he did hang one to Jesus Flores in the seventh, and paid the price. Flores hit a two-run home run, providing the difference in today's game.
The Pirate offense did very little in this game, but in my mind, the ninth inning was the ultimate display of futility. Adam LaRoche led off with a single, representing the tying run. Jose Castillo came to the plate with orders to sacrifice him to second. Castillo squared around on the first pitch, then pulled back to take a perfect strike. The second pitch was a fastball heading straight for Castillo's head. He tried to bunt it, fouling it off as he fell on his back. That took the count to 0-2, and Chad Cordero easily disposed of him with a fastball up out of the zone. One out, and Ronny Paulino to the plate. Cordero quickly fell behind in the count, 2-0. If you have watched Paulino bat at all this season, you know that there is only a small zone on the inner half of the plate in which he can hit the ball with any consistency. Well, Cordero threw a 2-0 fastball right in that zone, and Paulino just watched it for strike one. The count went to 3-2 and Cordero began painting the outside corner with fastballs. That is the pitch that Paulino has been unable to hit at all this season. Of course, he tried to pull one of those fastballs on the outer half. Of course, he hit a perfect double play ball to short. Game over, and for the second time this week, the Pirates were unable to finish off a sweep.
Jason Bay looked terrible at the plate in this game. I was hoping that the night off on Saturday would refresh him a little, but it appeared to do the complete opposite. He looked sluggish all game, and did not appear to have enough energy to even swing the bat. Bay finished 0 for 4 with 2 strikeouts on the day.