Nationals 2, Pirates 1: Bucs Miss Opportunities, Let Tim Wood Blow Game

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 01: Matt Stairs #12 of the Washington Nationals gets a shaving cream pie by Jerry Hairston Jr. #15 after driving in the winning run against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park on July 1, 2011 in Washington, DC. The Nationals won the game 2-1. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

I was out covering a ballgame locally tonight and am just now watching the replay, but this already looks like a very frustrating loss. The Nationals gave the Pirates great opportunities in the first and third innings, and the Pirates did nothing with them. In the first, the Bucs got a single from Chase D'Arnaud and a walk by Andrew McCutchen, but Matt Diaz grounded into a double play to end it.

Then in the third, the Pirates had three runners reach base without the ball leaving the infield (one on an infield single, the other two on Nationals errors), and they got an additional gift on an RBI grounder by Alex Presley in which a Nats infielder could have thrown home, but took the out at first instead. And despite all that, they only got one run in the inning, which ended - and not meaning to pick on the guy here, but two terrible at-bats are two terrible at-bats - when Matt Diaz struck out on a pitch about a foot out of the zone.

Charlie Morton returned after missing one start and only allowed one run, on a solo homer by Roger Bernardina. The bullpen maintained a 1-1 tie until the bottom of the ninth, at which point Clint Hurdle brought in Tim Wood, even though Joel Hanrahan had not pitched in several days and Jose Veras also should have been available. Now, at this point, Wood has pitched eight innings with the Bucs and allowed eight walks while striking out two. I was glad when the Pirates promoted him, but at this point, he hasn't done much to justify being used in the bottom of the ninth in a tie game. I'm not sure what he was doing in there while guys like Hanrahan and Veras went unused.

Anyway, Wood allowed a single to Mike Morse, then had to intentionally walk a batter after Morse advanced to second on a wild pitch that was about 18 inches from where Mike McKenry put his glove. The next pitch was again way, way off the mark, and it ended up hitting the umpire in the junk. If these weren't indications that Wood should have been taken out, I'm not sure what would have been. (And the Pirates had plenty of time to have someone warm up, too, because the ump needed time to recuperate.) But no. Hurdle left Wood in to pitch to Matt Stairs, who hit a walk-off RBI single. 

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