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Bucs Defeat Nationals, 8-5

The Pirates managed to pile up runs today thanks to big days from Garrett Jones (who had two doubles, one of them nearly a homer) and Ryan Doumit. Pedro Alvarez added two RBIs on a double of his own, which also was nearly a homer.

Once the Bucs had a lead to protect, John Russell's decisions with the bullpen made me nervous - Zach Duke only pitched five innings, but Russell was still ridiculously careful with some of his middle relief guys (which makes some sense, given how badly they pitch) and basically played LaRussa-style through the sixth and seventh innings, only allowing Wilfredo Ledezma and Brian Burres to pitch to one batter each and Heave Ho Park to pitch to two. After that, he only had Chris Resop and Joel Hanrahan left available and a score of 8-5. Luckily, those two guys are good, and Russell's gamble paid off. Burres was brought in to face lefty Adam Dunn and he walked him, and Russell pulled Burres immediately so that Resop could face righty Mike Morse. Resop then showed very convincingly that Morse didn't have any idea how to hit his fastball. 

Some people in the comments section criticized Russell for putting Burres in at all instead of just bringing Resop to face Dunn, since the idea with a three-run lead is to keep guys off the bases, and Burres likes giving out walks almost as much as Dunn likes taking them. But I'm not sure I can fault Russell for that - in his career, Resop has been even more of a walk machine against lefties than Burres has. 

We criticize Russell a lot here, and mostly he deserves it, but today I have to give him some credit. He might have pulled Duke a bit earlier, and it was pretty questionable to put Sean Gallagher out there with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth. But after that, Russell managed like he cared and pursued a risky strategy that would have made him look very dumb if Resop and Hanrahan had struggled, but that nonetheless was a pretty good strategy given that he only had six pitchers in his 'pen and only two of them are any good (although I still hold out a bit of hope for Ledezma).