Joe Musgrove struck out a career high nine batters, but a fifth inning hung cutter to Anthony Rendon defined his outing in a 5-1 loss to the Washington Nationals.
Musgrove (3-4) had to work out of trouble early and often, recording all six outs in the first two innings with a runner in scoring position. He got into a groove from there, retiring 10 out of his next 11 faced, but Juan Soto snapped his hot streak by legging out an infield single to third with two outs in the fifth. Musgrove then hung the next pitch to Rendon, who put it into the seats in the left field notch to make it 2-0 Nationals.
“It was a bad pitch. It was right down the middle,” Musgrove said. “...I should have stuck with my attack plan and gone right after him with four-seams and sinkers.”
Musgrove finished with two runs allowed on five hits and a walk in his five innings pitched. He threw 16 first pitch strikes to his 22 batters faced and retired five on three pitches or less.
While Musgrove did fan nine, he did have trouble getting the third strike. Washington batters fouled off 30 of his 96 pitches, including 24 fouls with two strikes. Those fouls lead to a high workload early, throwing 27 pitches in the first inning and 48 through two.
“I was working to the edges pretty well. I actually felt really good tonight,” Musgrove said. “The first inning I wasn’t very sharp, but I was making good pitches and they were just fouling them off...That ultimately really hurt me. Got my pitch count up, I was getting tired after two innings and working a lot harder than I would have liked to.”
It was the first start back for Musgrove since being placed on the 10 day disabled list with a right index finger infection on July 4. He said the finger feels great now.
Nationals’ starter Jeremy Hellickson went five innings as well, allowing just two singles and a walk. He improves to 3-1.
Steven Brault started the sixth but was pulled after a third of an inning after allowing three runs on three walks and three singles.
The Pirates got their only run in the seventh on an RBI groundout by Max Moroff, plating Josh Bell.
The No Rain Rain Delay
The original 7:05 start time for Tuesday’s game was pushed back to 7:55 p.m. because of a rain delay*.
*Rain not included.
Inclement weather outside of the city caused the umpiring crew to be gun shy of starting a game on top just to sit through a lengthy weather delay. Musgrove did not know about the delay until he had already suited up and started heading to the field.
“It was a little frustrating but I understand,” Musgrove said. “I’d rather take the extra half hour and get to go five or seven or whatever it may be than go out there for one and get caught in a delay and burn a start.
“It’s tough. You prepare mentally for a time and trying to go out and lock yourself in before you go out there to start throwing the ball, and then you get hit with one of those.”
Trevor Williams (6-7, 4.60) will take the hill Wednesday at 12:35 p.m. in the rubber match of the series. The Nationals will oppose with Gio Gonzalez (6-5, 3.76).
PSA: For some stupid reason, the game will only be available to watch through Facebook.
1. Brault has been scored upon in four of his last six outings (7 IP, 10 runs).
2. Polanco tied Harper for third among NL right fielders in total bases with his 1-4 performance (127).
3. Jordy Mercer played his 736th game played at shortstop, passing Bones Ely for the seventh most in club history.