Unbeaten Pirates look to keep rolling vs. Nationals

The Pittsburgh Pirates and the host Washington Nationals had the day off Tuesday before continuing their three-game series Wednesday in the nation’s capital.

The red-hot Pirates may be wishing that there was no interruption, as the club has won its first five games of the season for the first time since 1983 following Monday’s 8-4 win at Nationals Park.

Pittsburgh collected 15 hits in the eight-run outburst, marking the first time since at least 1900 that the Pirates have scored six runs or more in each of their first five games.

Pirates center fielder Michael A. Taylor accounted for three hits Monday against his former team.

“We’ve got a good mix of everything right now,” Taylor said. “We’re generating runs, putting together quality at-bats, and guys are going up there grinding. We’re playing good baseball right now. I think there’s a lot that we can learn from this early part of the season, but we’ll keep it going.”

Taylor, who played for the Nationals from 2014-20, is 8-for-17 (.471 average) on the young season.

Along with the continued offensive success, Pittsburgh will hope for another strong effort from its starting pitcher. Making his Pirates debut on Monday, Marco Gonzales allowed just one earned run and four hits in five innings.

The Pirates will hand the ball to right-hander Mitch Keller (0-0, 6.35 ERA), who aims to bounce back from an Opening Day start in Miami in which he allowed five runs (four earned) over 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Marlins.

Keller, who earned his first All-Star nod last season, is 1-1 with a 5.17 ERA in three career starts against Washington.

The Nationals meanwhile have dropped three of their first four games while allowing 7.0 runs per contest so far.

On Monday, Washington starter MacKenzie Gore gave up three runs in 5 1/3 innings, but the Nationals bullpen allowed five runs in the final two frames.

Hoping to stop the bleeding for the pitching staff Wednesday is right-hander Trevor Williams, who’s making his season debut. He was a member of the Pirates from 2016-20 and is 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in three starts against his former team.

Washington catcher Riley Adams tied the game with a two-run homer in the seventh inning, but the offense was unable to muster up more than a run on Gonzales through the first six innings.

“In the first five innings, I think Gonzales only had like 62 pitches,” Nationals manager Dave Martinez said. “We’ve got to jump on their starters. We talk about it every day, we have to try to knock those starters out, we have to get deeper in counts.”

The two teams wrap up the three-game set Thursday and won’t meet again until a four-game series in Pittsburgh beginning on Sept. 5.

–Field Level Media