Nationals travel to Pittsburgh in battle of last-place clubs

Local Sports

In a matchup of teams playing for pride and the future, the Washington Nationals open a three-game set Friday against the Pirates in Pittsburgh.

The Pirates do have one thing the Nationals don’t: a shot at finishing last in the major leagues and clinching the top draft spot next year.

Pittsburgh (50-90) is still seeking its first sweep of an opponent and remains the only big league club that has not won a series by sweep.

The Pirates came close this week when they won the first two games of a home series against Detroit before dropping the series finale.

Now Pittsburgh faces a team that, like Detroit, is another struggling team in the Nationals (58-82).

There was a sweep when the teams met at Washington in mid-June: The Nationals beat the Pirates in all three games by a combined 14-4.

“I don’t put a whole lot of stock into it, and it’s not really something that consumes much of my thoughts,” Pittsburgh catcher Jacob Stallings said of not being able to complete a sweep. “It just hasn’t worked out. I think more of what is frustrating is just our overall win-loss record. I think when you have a bad record, it’s hard to sweep teams. It doesn’t really bother me that much.”

The Pirates are 2-7 in their past nine games, 8-11 in their past 19.

The Nationals are 3-6 in September, 4-12 in their past 16 games.

Washington is at something of a disadvantage as it played Thursday, a 7-6 loss in Atlanta in 10 innings, while the Pirates, who are on their longest homestand, had a day off.

One bright spot for Washington has been former Pirates first baseman Josh Bell, who has at least one hit in 15 of his past 17 games, going 20-for-65 (.308) with four doubles, five homers, 13 RBIs and seven runs scored.

“Honestly — I’ve said this many times — he’s been unbelievable,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “Offensively, he’s been great.”

In the series opener, left-hander Steven Brault (0-3, 5.61 ERA) is scheduled to start, while Washington has not named a starter.

Brault missed most of the season because of a lat strain and will be making his seventh start, but things seem to be going in the wrong direction.

He has given up 12 runs in seven innings over his past two starts after allowing four runs in 18 2/3 innings over his first four outings.

In his most recent outing, Friday, he did not get a decision against the Chicago Cubs as he was tagged with five runs and seven hits in four innings.

“It just seemed like I was falling onto my backside a little bit too much, so (it’s a matter of) keeping that back leg strong, which is a problem I’ve run into before, and I probably will run into again,” Brault offered as a self-diagnosis.

“It’s just kind of one of those things that I just need to consistently keep up with and work on.”

Against Washington, Brault is 0-1 with a 7.84 ERA in four career appearances, two of them starts.

–Field Level Media

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Sports Video

More Sports Videos


More Video

High School Football Previews

Wheeling Park Patriots: 2021 High School Football Preview

Wheeling Central Maroon Knights

John Marshall Preview

Valley Lumberjacks: 2021 Football Preview

Cameron Dragons: 2021 High School Football Preview

Paden City Wildcats: 2021 High SChool Football Preview

Hundred Hornets: 2021 High School Football Preview

Tyler Consolidated Knights: 2021 High School Football Preview

Weir High Red Riders: 2021 High School Football Preview

St. Clairsville Red Devils : 2021 High School Football Preview

More High School Football Previews

Barnesville High School

Beallsville High School

Beaver Local High School

Bellaire High School

Bridgeport High School

Brooke High School

Buckeye Local High School

Buckeye Trail High School

Caldwell High School

Cambridge High School

Cameron High School

Clay-Battelle High School

Conotton Valley High School

East Liverpool High School

Edison High School

Fort Frye High School

Harrison Central High School

Hundred High School

Indian Creek High School

John Marshall High School

Linsly High School

Magnolia High School

Martins Ferry High School

Meadowbrook High School

Monroe Central High School

Morgantown High School

Oak Glen High School

Paden City High School

Parkersburg High School

Parkersburg Catholic High School

Parkersburg South High School

River High School

St. Clairsville High School

Shadyside High School

Shenandoah High School

Steubenville High School

Steubenville Catholic Central High School

Toronto High School

Tyler Consolidated High School

Union Local High School

University High School

Valley High School

Weir High School

Weirton Madonna High School

Wellsville High School

Wheeling Central High School

Wheeling Park High School

Don't Miss

Trending Stories

More Top News

WTRF 7News Twitter

12SportsZone Twitter