Pirates Invade Washington This Weekend

When only two games separate the top three teams in a division when you are long past the mid-point of the season, every game seems to get more important. That is the situation the Pittsburgh Pirates find themselves in as they sit third place in the NL Central, only 2.5 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. Also, in the hunt is St. Louis who is only two games behind being No. 1 in the division.

On paper, the Pirates are entering a favorable series tonight that could put them over their division if they win it.  They have not lost a road series to their opponents since June of 2010.

The only problem that team is the No.1 team in the NL East at the moment.

The closest team to dethroning the Washington Nationals as the NL East leaders is the Atlanta Braves. They are six games away. If the Nats drop this three-game series over the weekend, the Braves could cut their division win leads in half.

The Pirates know they need Ws, but they suffered a major set back when they had to put Andrew McCutchen on the disabled list. Travis Snider, though, has stepped up to fill the gap, batting 7-for-15 with seven RBIs and three home runs in his last four games.

It will be up to Tanner Roark to stifle McCutchen’s momentum as he takes the mound for the Nationals.

In his last outing, Roark took a no-decision after pitching seven innings. He only allowed one run and six hits against the Braves. The Nats went on to win 4-1 after two innings.

Roark is 11-7 overall with a 2.86 ERA.

The Pirates will start with their most reliable pitcher, Charlie Morton, who is the only member of the Pittsburgh’s rotation who has not missed a game. He has pitched inconsistently however this season, with a 5-11 overall record and 3.62 ERA.

The Nationals are the favorites to win with homefield advantage. They have a moneyline of –153. The Pirates moneyline is set at +138.

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