Tag Archives: Pittsburgh Pirates

For posterity, Ryan Zimmerman’s walk off

I was on vacation, off the grid, etc. last week, so I missed Ryan Zimmerman‘s latest walk-off home run, to beat the New York Mets, his first since 2011. I was getting concerned — he was overdue.

Zimmerman earned the nickname Mr. Walkoff on Opening Night 2008 when he christened Nationals Park and I came up the the nickname on the spot. Friday night’s was his 9th game winning home run of his career. The all-time record is 12 with has tied the all-time record for walk-off home runs with Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Frank Robinson and Jim Thome all sharing the record. Zimmerman is 28 years old. Zimmerman has also beaten every NL East team via walkoff now.

The day before, Bryce Harper hit his first walkoff homer to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates:

I can’t say I was surprised to return to BeltwayLand to see the Nats under .500. While I was out, Rick Eckstein got fired, Drew Storen got demoted and Steve McCatty was hospitalized. It is probably for the best I was out to sea for the week.

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2013 Nats at Pirates Q&A and guest prognostication with Sam, The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus

Congratulations, we made it to Friday and so did the Washington Nationals. They split hte series with the Atlanta Braves, winning the last two behind strong pitching from Jordan Zimmermann and Dan Haren. The former is expected at this point, the latter is still winning us over. He’s got twice thrice as many wins as Stephen Strasburg, right?

Now, the Nats are headed up US 19 (well, not really they flew and would have taken interstates if they used surface transportation) to the Steel City. The first Pittsburgh Pirates series of the season means another round of questions will repatriated Western Pennsylvania native, Sam, previously known as The Maryland Bureau Chief from his time in Columbia. His previous contributions: 2012, 2011 second series, 2011 first series, 2010 and 2012 for the Steelers.

WFY: Two consecutive August collapses for Pirates v- is that easier than say, 9th inning, Game 5 NLDS?

TMBCE: Prior to last year, the most painful Pirates experience would be Game 7 of the NLCS vs. Atlanta in 1992. I mean seriously, Barry Bonds took about a hour to try and throw out Sid Bream at home. Beyond ridiculous! Last year’s collapse was more painful overall. In 2011, we knew the team was held together with “chicken wire and duct tape” as Clint Hurdle likes to say. But in 2012, they were 16 FREAKING GAMES OVER .500 on AUGUST 6th! And they still managed to finish under.500. It was a disaster, but by Labor Day we could see it coming. But it was still painful.

WFY: Slow start, then good couple of weeks – can you figure out the 2013 Pirates yet?

TMBCE: Based on the last 20 years, I am not sold on this team yet. 3 of the 5 starters have been good, and the bullpen has been GREAT! I am worried about burnout of the bullpen, however. I just want them to maintain a good, steady pace right now.

WFY: How do you feel about the overall direction of the Pirates?

TMBCE: They are spending more money than in the past, but a lot of is for players who are stop gaps that won’t be here in 5 years (Burnett, Wandy, Grilli, Russell Martin, etc). They are quality major leaguers, but are probably on the wrong side of their primes. Drafting has been extremely spotty over the last 20 years. The current GM has been in place for a while, and hasn’t drafted well. Most fans expect a GM change if the team isn’t over .500 this year.

WFY: The Pirates had 2 million in attendance last year, has the fanbase been awakened?

TMBCE: Somewhat. The last 2 years have brought fans back to the fold; however, not everyone is back. The Pirates are still the #3 sports team in town. (Note: I know believe the Pens have passed the Steelers in terms of passion among the fan base and number of strong fans among the 20-30 something crowd).

WFY: Are you looking forward to a new Pirates logo ?

TMBCE: I am. I liked the first logo on the link, from the 80s and early 90s. I do not like current edition.

WFY: Would you take a zipline to a Pirates game if you could?

TMBCE: Absolutely! I’ve been reading about that zipline in the paper for a few weeks. It sounds awesome! (Although, I would probably chicken out and not do it).

WFY: We debated over email back in 2005 whether there was any potential for a Nats/Pirates rivalry, however minor. My theory was based on the large population of Western Pennsylvania natives in this area. Is there any buzz about playing the Nats in Western Pa.? There isn’t here – yet?

TMBCE: No buzz yet, but I believe that is partly due to the teams being separate divisions. I believe the Pirates and Braves should switch. The Pirates have natural rivals in the Phillies and Nats in the East, and the Mets are a historic rival.

WFY: Best Pirates memory? Worst?

TMBCE: This will sounds lame, but the “best” memory is in 2011, when the Buccos took 2 out of 3 from Boston at PNC Park in early summer. I had just moved back to the Burgh, the Pirates were starting to become relevant again, and I hate the Red Sox! I wasn’t at the games, but the crowds on TV looked ELECTRIC. It was the way baseball should be.

WFY: Greatest Pirate of your lifetime.

TMBCE: Hmmm….I guess we would still have to say Barry Bonds. (Based on the photos, he may not have been juicing that much while in Pittsburgh). If you want to remove him from consideration……it becomes a list of “good” players such as Andy Van Slyke, Bobby Bonilla, Doug Drabek, Aramis Ramierez and probably Andrew McCutchen. Given his age, I’ll vote for McCutchen.

WFY: Have you ever been a Pirates home game that was as electric as your first trip to Nationals Park?

TMBCE: The best “game” I’ve been to wasn’t even a game, it was the Home Run Derby in 1994 at Three Rivers Stadium. That was AWESOME. Ken Griffey Jr. hit a HR in the derby that made the upper-most deck in the stadium. It literally almost left the stadium!

WFY: For somebody visiting, would you suggest getting a Primanti Bros sammich downtown (dahntaun) instead of the ballpark?

TMBCE: If you’ve never been to a Primanti’s, I would recommend going to one dahntahn. It will be a little cheaper, and you will get a better menu selection.

WFY: Where does Pirates Parrot rank among the 3 Pittsburgh mascots? Has he ever been part of a terrorist plot? Are the racing pierogis a bigger deal than him?

TMBCE: I hate Steely McBeam, and he’s been “retired” anyway. I would rank the Parrot just ahead of Iceburg. The Pitt Panther is a DISTANT third among active mascots, for obvious reasons.

WFY: On the hockey front, the Penguins are a lock for the Stanley Cup finals, do you think they’ll have any series that even make it to six games? I will assume the Capitals get eliminated no later than the second round until proven otherwise.

TMBCE: Quit trying to jinx us. Pens fans are taking nothing for granted. Crosby still isn’t even playing. We have been so terrible the last 3 playoffs, so I don’t even assume the Islanders are an easy matchup. Getting to the finals would be a successful season, but is far from a lock. I am glad that we aren’t playing the Rangers–going up against Lundquist is never a good idea. And a Pens – Bruins or Pens- Caps matchup would be highly competitive.

WFY: Who will win this series and the season series?

TMBCE: I think the Pirates win tonight but lose the series. I think the Nats win the season series 4-3.

WFY: Quit trying to jinx us!

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McCutchen, Pirates beat Nats, take season series

The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus drew first blood in a duel of reverse jinx texts last night. Curses, he was one step ahead of me! His prediction of a 3-2 Washington Nationals win over the Pittsburgh Pirates was not what I had wanted to see. I replied back that the Nats would probably lose 2-1, because Jordan Zimmermann never got run support. The back and forth continued through the evening.

James McDonald struck the Nats out 11 times. He was perfect until Bryce Harper walked in the 5th inning.

Andrew McCutchen continued to be nightmare fuel for the Nats, hitting 2 home runs last night. Why do they pitch to him? At least he won’t be seen around here until the playoffs. TMBCE said if McCutchen played the Nats all season he’d hit 50 home runs. I countered that he’d hit 80. He also had a robbed Adam LaRoche (who was killing the Pirates this season) at the wall in right center.

The Nats finally got going in the 6th with back to back doubles by Jesus Flores and Stephen Lombardozzi. Ryan Zimmerman went the other way for a 2 RBI, 2 out hit. The Nats had life again! LaRoche tripled (just a few feet short of a home run) to send Zimmerman home. Then the Nats stopped scoring.

Washington had a chance in the ninth — you always have a chance against Joel Hanrahan and put two runners on. Ian Desmond struck out for the fourth time to end the game and earn the golden sombrero. He continues to be frustrating.

So, the Pirates took the season series, the Nats lost another final game of a series with a chance to sweep.

I owe TMBCE a half-smoke.

The Baltimore Orioles come down the B/W Parkway tonight for a weekend inter-league series. More to come.

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Nats honor Chuck Brown with 3 homers in 7-4 win over Pirates

BeltwayLand was sad yesterday after the godfather of go-go Chuck Brown died (The Post). There was plenty of speculation on Twitter about how and whether the Washington Nationals would honor Brown. In the past, “Bustin’ Loose” was played after home runs. When I heard about Brown’s passing, I tweeted this:

I’d like to see the #Nats honor Chuck Brown tonight. I’d also like to see @NationalsPR do a pregame tribute

I’m pleased to report that that Nats did honor Brown — three home runs by Adam LaRoche, Xavier Nady and Ian Desmond. The first two are former Pittsburgh Pirates. Gio Gonzalez had 10 strikeouts. He gave too much credit to the Buccos as well, which WTOP’s Craig Hesit could not get over. The Nats can sweep a two-game series and take the season series if they win tonight, which means they probably won’t.

Hey, a Barry Svrluga chat! Sure, the Nats aren’t mentioned in the preview, but let’s pepper him with questions about them anyway. And Panera.

I couldn’t blog yesterday, car problems (somebody broke my side mirror, no note — gutless coward) so I did not get to comment on the weird Stephen Strasburg ointment story. Weird. I think we can all agree that Gio was the real culprit, right? Strasburg was just part of the many injuries that the Nats are dealing with and dealing with quite well. Still, this graphic is quite telling. Yikes.

Good to see the Nats come back from that awful loss to San Diego Padres on Tuesday afternoon.

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Strasburg strikes out 13, Nats come back to beat Pirates; Harper as Mantle?

Stephen Strasburg struck out 13 and the Washington Nationals came back to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates, 4-2. Strasburg got out of a jam in the sixth after he walked 3 in a row. I hope he’s okay.

Here is a fun exchange from the top of the sixth inning:

Me: Roger Bernadina just homered!

Wife: Who? Who?

/wilnieves’d

Wife:That’s a name I haven’t heard in a month of Sundays.

Adam LaRoche hit another homer against his former team, a two-run shot. Ryan Zimmerman walked right after Bernadina’s homer.

Rick Ankiel homered in the ninth to add an insurance run. I think closer Henry Rodriguez appreciated it.

Here is the Strasburg K reel, which probably won’t work until sometime on Sunday. Again, MLB just needs to let us embed them outright.

The Nats salvaged the series and can still take the series with a 2-game sweep next week. I hope they do, because I want to win another Primanti Bros. sammich (still have to claim the first one) and not owe a half-smoke.

I like to think the Nats boarded a sternwheeler in front of the ballpark and are sailing down the Ohio River for their series with the Cincinnati Reds. I think they’d be to about Marietta by now, right?

MORE

THOMAS BOSWELL: Bryce Harper makes an immediate impact in a variety of ways for NationalsThe Post
I love watching Harper play, but what is the team’s record since he arrived? He’s certainly helped win, but the team is struggling a bit. Or at least it seems they are. #firstplacenatsproblems

MLB Network makes the comparison between Harper and Mickey Mantle (DC Sports Bog, The Post):

I’ll have more to say about the Mantle comparison later in the season.

Johnson tries to boost Nats’ spirits during meetingCSN Washington
TEAM MEETING FTW 1!!!1!!!1

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Nats lose Pirates series; so many strikeouts, Strasburg is incredible & growth of the fanbase

Last night after watching the Washington Nationals fall to the Pittsburgh Pirates for the second consecutive night, I tweeted “You know that *skepticism* we have of Rick Eckstein and the team doctors/trainers? I have that for the #Nats optometrist too.”

It is oversimplifying matters to suggest that the need for more thorough eye exams could be the root of all of those Nats strikeouts, but I’d like Danny Espinosa to get a good eye exam. I like to think that is the issue and not that he’s just not a good hitter, a la Rick Ankiel, who should be nothing more than a fourth outfielder. Espinosa’s strikeouts are just brutal (The Wash. Times)

You could say that K Street is a two-way street.

The Nats 4-2 loss meants this is the second series of the season that they didn’t win. They have to win the next 3 games against Pittsburgh or I lose an annual bet.

FURTHER READING

Rehashing a strange 3rd inningCSN Washington
IT was strange and the third run was preventable, but Ian Desmond hesitated on the throw home. Then he almost hit a home run, missing by a few inches.

Stephen Strasburg, healthy and ‘one of the guys,’ might be baseball’s best pitcherThe Post
No other D.C. player combines athletic excellence and intelligence as well as Strasburg. It isn’t even close. He is on the mound tonight to try and salvage the series.

Where do the Nationals fit among D.C.’s pro sports teams? & SNYDER: Nationals’ bandwagon is starting to fill up – The Wash. Times
The Nats rank #3, fairly far behind the Capitals who always make the playoffs and of course, the Redskins who are #1 by about a light-year, performance notwithstanding. A successful Nats team could overtake the Caps in a few years. The Wizards and DC United round up the rest. If the bandwagon is a little slow in starting up isn’t a terrible thing.

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Nats closers past and present blow saves in loss to Pirates

After a day off to think about a fully formed rivalry between the Washington Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies, it was time to play baseball again. The Nats traveled to Pittsburgh to start their Ohio River road trip. Edwin Jackson faced A.J. Burnett. Other than two solo homers, Jackson was decent, while Burnett was striking out seemingly every other D.C. player. They both left the game with the score 2-2. Jackson had two hits too.

Tyler Clippard came in for Washington in the 8th and gave up a run. I thought to myself, don’t panic, Clippard is just trying to vulture a win again and Joel Hanrahan would be pitching for the Buccos in the ninth. Sure enough, the Hanrahan we all remember (though not as heavy and in need of a haircut) came out and blew a save. Ryan Zimmerman, in his first game off the DL, singled. Adam LaRoche, also back from the DL, homered to take the lead. Same ol’ Joel. The Nats couldn’t get any more runs across, even after a Wilson Ramos single.

The bottom of the ninth featured Henry Rodriguez, now the only closer in the bullpen. Rodriguez was taking an awful lot of time between pitches which gave me a bad feeling. Sure enough, he gave up a single and then threw two wild pitches. Rod Barajas made him pay, hitting his first home run of the season to walk-off with the win.

The Nats now have a two-game losing streak.

In other news, The Maryland Bureau Chief Emeritus texted me that there was a Presidents vs. Pierogi race. Teddy sat it out. The Pierogis won. No video though; neither on the Pirates site or youtube. C’mon Pittsburgh, get with the program.

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