Before previewing today's game, let's talk about yesterday's loss briefly. It was frustrating to watch in just about every way possible. On one hand, the Pirates walked six hitters, hit three batters, gave the Nationals three runs on bad defensive plays by the two guys (Barmes and Marte) that are supposed to anchor the defense, and totally spaced on the existence of baserunners in the top of the ninth inning of a tie game. On the other hand, the Pirates played a close game against a good team where the starting pitching couldn't get out of the fifth inning and they didn't use either one of their best relievers for reasons that aren't at all clear to anyone except the guy that makes them. It's frustrating to watch Justin Wilson and Tony Watson face right-handed hitters in big situations in close games while Mark Melancon and Jason Grilli are on the shelf, waiting for a three-run lead to be used. The Pirates were sloppy enough yesterday that you can say they deserved to lose and not be wrong, but that doesn't mean that awful way that the bullpen is being used this year should go unnoticed or that it didn't have any thing to do with yesterday's outcome.
The rubber match of the series is this afternoon with Wandy Rodriguez and Gio Gonzalez on the mound. Gonzalez has made six starts this year and two-thirds of them have seen him only last four or five innings. That includes two four-inning starts in his last three outings. He's also walked 11 hitters in his last three starts and after only giving up nine homers in 199 1/3 innings last year, he's served up four in 32 innings this year. He gets his strikeouts, but he's certainly not quite been himself this year and that should give the Pirates a chance. Of course, Rodriguez's last two starts have been pretty bad, too, with his last start being more or less an unmitigated disaster in Milwuakee. He'll need to be better than that for the Pirates to have a chance today.
First pitch is at 1:35.