The Pirates Nationals series could separate the Bucs from the pack.

Pirates Nationals Series Will Be Telling

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The ride into Washington, DC to watch the Pirates Nationals kickoff game to an important series was littered with Pennsylvania plates, Pirates bumper stickers and general Yinzeresque.   Leg tattoos, Bethlehem Steel–the steel that built Pittsburgh– cut off t-shirts and cries for a cold I-rhan in the hotel bar were also prevalent.

I trust it all doesn’t end up in disappointment come Sunday.

The series with the Nationals is usually good litmus test of what direction the Pirates season is going to go.   The Nats are very strong this season.  The Bucs are battered, trying to rope-a-dope until Andrew McCutchen can get back in the ring.

DC has been a  bit of a mixed bag over the past couple years, the Pirates have done poorly–see Strasmas, but as of late have fared much better.  DC has been the scene of the A.J. tirade last year.  The big time homer from Pedro Alvarez off Stephen Strasburg and generally well played games by the visiting Pirates.

The Nats clubhouse had some funny bulletin board material when Lastings Milledge was traded in the Joel Hanrahan trade.  The caption under the very well photo shopped picture said:  Washington Nationals playa Lastings Milledge was picked up by Melbourne police for questioning in a case of impersonating an outfielder. Milledge was later released on bond and advised by Judge Richard Fitzell to remain in Brevard County until a trial date can be set.

Washington Nationals playa Lastings Milledge was picked up by Melbourne police for questioning in a case of impersonating an outfielder. Milledge was later released on bond and advised by Judge Richard Fitzell to remain in Brevard County until a trial date can be set.

Washington Nationals playa Lastings Milledge was picked up by Melbourne police for questioning in a case of impersonating an outfielder. Milledge was later released on bond and advised by Judge Richard Fitzell to remain in Brevard County until a trial date can be set.

Last August we wrote that the Nats and Pirates were headed in opposite directions.  The Nats were in dire straits.  The next day Ross Ohlendorf was taking the mound.  The Nats, depsite winning a shit load of games in 2012, fell flat in 2013.  But this offseason, changes were made by the Nats and they have paid off.  The Pirates are somehow right in the middle of a pennant race, but not losing any ground this weekend is going to be very difficult I’m afraid.

Hands down, the Nationals are one of the best two teams in the National League.  Injuries have held them back.  But the team has still managed to put serious distance between their division rival, the Atlanta Braves.  And don’t look now, but Bryce Harper just started heating up.  He even pulled a ball–really pulled it about two million feet–which means his injured thumb is getting better.  The quote from Harper after the game was even better.

That’s not good news for a Pirates pitching staff that is going to be up against three really tough Nats starters this weekend.   The Pirates need to somehow survive in the nations capital.  I’m just not feeling really comfortable about it though.

A beat up, both mentally and physically, Pirates team against a team on cruise control sounds like a bad match up.  Yet, if the Pirates can win two games in DC, get your bookie on the phone, this team has destiny on its’ side.  And while I’m dreaming  big, it would be great to see Pedro Alvarez come alive, John Axford find his groove, Neil Walker get on the field, Charlie Morton go seven.  Gonna stop there…fill some in for me would you?

But at least God doesn’t hate the Pirates?  WTH?

Injuries haven't slowed the Nationals this season.

Injuries haven’t slowed the Nationals this season.

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