After an 11-inning 6-5 victory Friday night, the Pittsburgh Pirates will host the second contest in a three-game series against the Washington Nationals.
Ivan Nova (12-7, 4.19 ERA) will face the Nationals’ Joe Ross (7-5, 3.48 ERA) in tonight’s pitching match-up.
Nova is coming off his worst start as a Pirate in which he pitched all of three innings allowing five runs on 10 hits against the Cincinnati Reds. PNC Park has treated Nova well as he is 3-0 with a 2.03 ERA in four total starts. He is 1-0 with a 1.17 ERA, winning his lone career start against the Nationals June 17, 2012.
Ross was activated off the disabled list this past Sunday missing 66 games with right-shoulder inflammation. This is his second start since the injury. He last pitched three innings allowing three runs on six hits against the Atlanta Braves, taking the loss. MLB.com’s Jamal Collier reported prior to tonight’s game that Ross is expected to throw 4-5 innings as he continues to regain stamina from the injury.
Melancon returns to Pittsburgh
Last night, Mark Melancon toed PNC Park’s rubber in the ninth inning trying to earn yet another save. This time though it was without any black and gold on.
It did not matter that Melancon was not pitching any longer for the Pirates, at least to the fans who showed their appreciation as a video played on the jumbotron.
“I thought it might happen, but it was very cool and classy on their part,” Melancon said of the video.
While there may have been some mixed fe,elings on Melancon’s mind, there was none from his three kids Brooklyn, Jack David and Elia who all consider PNC Park their home.
As for the transition to Washington, it was not too hard for Melancon who remains pleased with pitch execution and has backed that up by going 12-for-12 in saves as Nationals closer before the Pirates bested him last night.
“It did not take long at all. The mission over here is quite clear; we’re trying to get to a World Series and everybody has been on board.”
Melancon’s kids and wife Mary Catherine all made the return trip to PNC Park and have been overwhelmed by all of the support from Pirates fans.
It is not all fun and games for Melancon, though. If the Nationals win tonight and the New York Mets lose, then the Nationals will be National League East Division Champions.
There is a very good possibility that if the Nationals get that division clinching out that it could be done with Melancon on the mound at PNC Park, a fact not lost on Melancon.
With the Pirates returning to Pittsburgh late Thursday night and no batting practice Friday, Melancon did not get much chance to interact with his now former teammates. He did get that chance prior to tonight’s game.
“Everybody has been really gracious, and it’s really cool how people have treated my family and me,” he said.
Hurdle admires team’s resiliency
What do the numbers 12 and 55 mean to you? Well, for the Pirates it has defined the season in some respects.
It has been an injury-riddled season for the Pirates and one of many ups and downs. The number 12 represents the amount of major league debuts this season and 55 is the amount of players the Pirates have used.
Despite all of this movement, the Pirates find themselves 3.5 games behind for a Wild Card spot.
“I continue to respect the resiliency,” manager Clint Hurdle said. “We all understand it’s part of the season, but you continue to show up, adapt, improvise and overcome as a group and individually. I love the fact that there is a nice layer of grit to this group that’s been fun to watch.
“There’s time that you give them some rope, and you’re nothing looking for them to hang themselves but they’ll get into positions where it is hard to get out and sometimes those can be your best coaching opportunities. We’ve had good, hard conversations with a lot of guys because of the adversity we’ve gone through together. We’ve had to trust each other and this has helped build our trust.”
That resiliency was displayed loudly last night when the final available position player option, Jacob Stallings, recorded the game-winning single.
“That was probably as good of an at-bat that I have ever seen from a guy with three major league at-bats going,” said Hurdle. “Jacob hasn’t been on a major league field in quite some time. He’s hitting off (Rick) Sofield and (Dave) Jauss let alone hitting off of (Yusmeiro) Petit with the bases loaded in the 11th inning. I think we’re all really pulling him and cheering him on.”
- Adam Frazier 2B
- Josh Bell RF
- Andrew McCutchen CF
- Jung Ho Kang 3B
- John Jaso 1B
- Sean Rodriguez SS
- Matt Joyce LF
- Francisco Cervelli C
- Ivan Nova P
- Trea Turner CF
- Jayson Werth LF
- Bryce Harper RF
- Anthony Rendon 3B
- Wilson Ramos C
- Stephen Drew 2B
- Ryan Zimmerman 1B
- Danny Espinosa SS
- Joe Ross P
Bottom of the ninth
For those trying to keep score last night, Hurdle feels your pain. You were not the only ones who had a piece of paper resemble chicken scratch.
“How about the number six spot in our order,” Hurdle asked. “There were 10 names jammed into that number six spot which may be an all-time high for me. It turned into hieroglyphics, and I was even taking short hand, which I’ve never done. I tried to take notes and I read them today and nothing.”
Andrew McCutchen is two hits away from 1,300 in his major league career … Stalling’s single last night was the 99th walk-off win in PNC Park history … The Pirates have scored 699 runs this season, the most since 2008 when they had 735.
Photo credit: @Pirates