Photo by Cheryl Nichols/Nationals News Network
Stephen Strasburg is a hard act to follow. John Lannan learned that the hard way while struggling from the mound for the entirety of his 4 2/3 inning outing.
When asked about Lannan’s trouble tonight, Manager Jim Riggleman responded that he thought Lannan was going to regroup but failed to get out of trouble. According to Riggleman, Lannan threw a lot of pitches that the Pirates were good at not hitting. Fair enough.
Two Pittsburgh Pirates made their Major League debut tonight, a day after Strasburg’s big day – starting pitcher Brad Lincoln and left fielder Jose Tabata — but the energy in the park felt a bit deflated.
What’s the biggest difference between Lincoln and Strasburg’s respective debuts besides the obvious and apparent hype behind Washington’s new ace? Lincoln got two hits, Strasburg didn’t. Hat tip to you, Mr. Lincoln.
The night started well enough when Adam Dunn crushed his 12th homer of the season to center field for an RBI 2-run shot in the first but the Nats defense couldn’t keep up with the Pirates offensive efforts.
A post-Strasmas blues seems to have plagued those in attendance at tonight’s game. Fans only cheered when prompted, boos were more prominent than applause while Lannan was pitching, and needless to say the crowd was a thin 18,876. Things did perk up near the end though.
It might not be the most consistent portion of the Nats strengths this season, but they did have an offensive boom in the fourth when Roger Bernadina hit an RBI double off Lincoln to send Willingham in to score.
Former National Lastings Milledge proceeded to misplay a hit off the bat of Ian Desmond sending Bernadina around to score, tying the game at 4-4. Then, the Bucs had a “Nats fielding moment“ when shortstop Ronny Cedeno bobbled a light dribbler hit by Lannan to send Desmond home and in turn gave the Nats a temporary 5-4 lead.
Lincoln proceeded to help himself out and spoil the Nats short-lived lead with a hit knocked off Lannan to send Milledge home to score tying the game at five runs a piece.
The Nats came back with two insurance runs over the seventh and eighth innings with a Zimmerman RBI single and a sacrifice knock by Wil Neives allowing Willingham to score the final insurance run of the night.
Matt Capps recorded his 20th save of the season to close out a 7-5 victory over Pittsburgh. The final game of the series is tomorrow night at Nationals Park.