The Washington Times - August 1, 2009, 10:57PM

If this posting (or the game story for tomorrow’s paper that I just filed) doesn’t read well, it’s possibly because I’m tying it as a concert is going on beneath me on the PNC Park field. Jo Dee Messina, who I’m told is a country singer. Far be it for me to critique a musical style I’m not exactly keen on, but I don’t believe this is the concert that will make me into a country music fan.

Anyways, onto the game…


It’s rare that you can point your finger at both a team’s pitching staff and its lineup for coming up miserably in key situations on a given night, but that’s exactly what the Nationals did tonight.

During an 11-6 drubbing at the hands of the Pirates, the Nats came up short at the plate and on the mound. Let’s examine both angles…

Pitching: Craig Stammen was all over the place and paid the price for it. The rookie right-hander lasted just three innings, gave up six runs and eight hits and got a bit of a tongue-lashing from pitching coach Steve McCatty afterward. McCatty met with the entire staff in the clubhouse after the game and had sharp words for everyone, but as Stammen pointed out: “I think that was directed at me.”

“I didn’t really throw too many competitive pitches out there, and I got beat that way,” Stammen added. “But I had a pitching coach a long time ago tell me that these outings happen at every level. They’re embarrassing, and they’re unacceptable. But you’ve got to learn to bounce back from it and deal with it.”

Not that the guys who followed Stammen did any better. Tyler Clippard gave up a run and two hits in two innings. Logan Kensing was roughed up for four runs in two-thirds of an inning.

The main man dishing out the punishment was Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh’s dynamic rookie center fielder who clubbed three home runs and took a curtain call to appease the crowd of 26,855. Nyjer Morgan spent many years playing alongside McCutchen in the Pirates’ farm system and spoke glowingly of him after this game.

“He’s a special breed,” Morgan said. “He’s one of the most special talents I’ve seen ever since I’ve been in the game.”

As for the offensive woes: All you need to know is that the Nats put 19 men on base tonight. And scored only six runs. Opportunities were missed all over the plate. No one was safe from blame afterward.

“That’s a night where we’ve got to score more runs,” interim manager Jim Riggleman said. “That’s got to translate into more than [six] runs. We just left too many runners out there. Didn’t get the big hit.”