“I’m not going to lie,” the 31-year-old shortstop said. “I got to third base and said, ‘I’m getting old.”’
Not to worry. After all, it was a near certainty that the many of the Pittsburgh Pirates would get tired running the bases Monday night. They’ve been scoring runs aplenty, and no one gives them up like the Washington Nationals.
The Pirates have tallied 30 runs in a three-game winning streak, and they faced little resistance in a 12-7 win that opened a 10-game road trip. The Nationals made four errors and had another lead-blowing bullpen implosion, standard fare for the team with the worst record, pitching and fielding in the majors.
“It was just sad to see the way things are going with our bullpen. I’ve been in the game for a while, and I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Washington manager Manny Acta said. “We have to change it up because it’s not working. We went to young guys, veteran guys, and veterans or young, they’re not getting it done.”
A five-run sixth inning spurred Pittsburgh’s win, which ended an eight-game road losing streak. Ross Ohlendorf(notes) (5-3) picked up the victory despite allowing four extra-base hits in a five-run fifth, and Craig Monroe(notes) hit a three-run homer.
“We’re swinging the bats well,” Pittsburgh manager John Russell said.
So are the Nationals, who have lost five straight despite scoring at least five runs in every game. But they also began the day with 37 errors, five more than any team in baseball, and wasted no time padding their lead.
Shortstop Cristian Guzman(notes) botched two ordinary ground balls in the first inning, first baseman Nick Johnson(notes) missed a pickoff attempt that hit him squarely in the glove in the third, and second baseman Anderson Hernandez(notes) bounced a relay throw that should have nailed a runner coming home in the sixth. All this from a team that lost Sunday when Hernandez moved out of the way of a throw on a bunt play, leading to a two-run error that cost his team the game.
The bullpen was also up to its usual antics.
Reliever No. 1, Garrett Mock(notes) (0-2), had a walk, a wild pitch, a hit batter and allowed Wilson’s tying two-RBI double in just 15 pitches in the sixth inning. Reliever No. 2, Jesus Colome(notes), allowed three hits in five batters as his ERA ballooned to 22.50.
At least the boos weren’t loud in the mostly empty ballpark. The sparse crowd of 14,549 indicated that many in the D.C. area were unaware of the significance of the game, the first in major league history to have two starting pitchers with the first name Ross.
Nationals 2007 first-round draft pick Ross Detwiler(notes), making his first major league start after getting recalled from Double-A earlier in the day, struck out six and allowed three runs and four hits in five innings.
Given the state of his bullpen, Acta was asked why he didn’t let the rookie keep pitching.
“If I have to keep a Double-A guy out there because I don’t want to go to my big league bullpen,” Acta said, “then that’s really scary.”
Guzman had two hits to raise his average to .385. The team’s leadoff hitter, he finally drew his first walk of the season, getting a fifth-inning pass in his 122nd plate appearance. … Brandon Moss’(notes) pinch-hit double in the sixth provided the game-winning RBI, but it was his only at-bat, ending his streak of five straight multihit games. … Nationals OF Austin Kearns(notes) appeared as a pinch hitter after missing three games with a hand injury, and CF Elijah Dukes(notes) sat out with a tight left hamstring. … Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman(notes) has reached safely in 36 straight games.