Right-hander Gerrit Cole, the 22-year-old no.1 overall pick in the 2011 Draft, took the mound tonight in Nationals Park after 24-year-old Washington Nationals' starter Taylor Jordan, an '09 9th Round pick, was done with a quick, nine-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the first in the nation's capital. 20-year-old 2010 no.1 overall pick Bryce Harper lined to left-center on an 0-1 fastball from Cole for a leadoff single in the Nats' half of the first, but Harper was caught stealing with Anthony Rendon at the plate, a pitch before the 23-year-old, no.6 pick in the 2011 Draft K'd swinging for out no.2 of the opening frame. Ryan Zimmerman's groundout to third ended the first with neither team having scored any runs. 0-0 after one in D.C.
As the Nationals' pregame notes mentioned, Taylor Jordan entered tonight's game with a 72% ground-ball percentage after four starts in the majors, (45 ground balls - 17 FB). Of 271 outs recorded in minors by Jordan in 2013, 210 (77.5%) came via the ground ball (138) or the strikeout (72).
Pedro Alvarez and Russell Martin both got ahead in the count on the Nats' rookie right-hander, however, and got pitches they liked and ground balls through the infield for back-to-back singles to start the Pirates' second. Garrett Jones walked to load the bases so Neil Walker's groundout to second brought in a run and made it 1-0 early. It looked like a double play might get Jordan out of trouble, but Anthony Rendon dropped a throw to second on Jordy Mercer's grounder to third, allowing another run to score, 2-0, and an RBI single by the opposing pitcher made it 3-0 Bucs before the Nats' starter was done with a 25-pitch second inning.
Jayson Werth got hit with a 2-2 fastball inside from Gerrit Cole to give the Nationals' their second baserunner of the game. Werth stole second safely as Ian Desmond struck out, but was stranded there two outs later at the end of the Pirates' starter's second scoreless frame.
Taylor Jordan got two ground ball outs from the first two batters he faced in the third, with Ian Desmond, on a nice backhand stab, and Ryan Zimmerman, on a charging play, helping their young starting pitcher out. Pedro Alvarez's line drive to center was caught by Denard Span and it ended an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the third that had Jordan at 42 pitches after three. Wilson Ramos took the first pitch of the Nationals' third to left-center, over a leaping Andrew McCutchen and the #NATITUDE wall in left-center for a solo home run that made it a 3-1 game. Six pitches and three outs later, Cole was through the third at 41 pitches overall.
The Pirates' catcher, Russell Martin, took a first-pitch slider to left for a leadoff single in the top of the fourth. Seven pitches later, Taylor Jordan was done with an eight-pitch fourth that had him at 50 pitches overall after four. Gerrit Cole got Ryan Zimmerman looking with a 96 mph 2-2 fastball, then threw a 98 mph 1-2 heater by Adam LaRoche up high. Jayson Werth got a 3-1 fastball he liked, but the line drive he ripped to the left side of the infield ended up in Pedro Alvarez's glove for the third out of a 13-pitch 5th by the Pirates' starter.
Gerrit Cole grounded out to short for the eighth groundout of the night recorded by Taylor Jordan. Starling Marte's broken bat grounder to third made it nine ground ball outs. An 0-2 fastball got Jose Tabata swinging and ended the top of the fifth after ten pitches with Taylor Jordan at 60 overall. Still 4-1 Pirates. Ian Desmond walked to start the Nationals' fifth, but a groundout by Denard Span and fly to right by Wilson Ramos followed, serving only to advance the runner to third with two down. Taylor Jordan's groundout to third ended a 13-pitch fifth after which Cole was up to 67 pitches total.
Andrew McCutchen hit a 1-1 two-seamer through short for a leadoff single in the top of the sixth, but the tenth ground ball out of the night for Taylor Jordan went to Anthony Rendon at second, who made a slick backhand play as he got knocked down then tossed to Ian Desmond at second base to start a 4-6-3 DP. Russell Martin K'd looking at an 0-2 change outside to end an 11-pitch 6th that had Jordan up to 71 pitches overall after 6 IP.
Garrett Jones rolled a full-count fastball out to first for the 11th ground ball out recorded by Taylor Jordan in 6 1/3 IP tonight in D.C. Neil Walker sent groundout no.12 out to second, but Jordy Mercer hit a two-out single to center for the Pirates' sixth hit of the night off the Nats' starter. Gerrit Cole was 2 for 3 tonight after an opposite field single sent Mercer around to third, but Starling Marte sent the 13th groundout of the night out to short to end a 17-pitch seventh by the Nationals' starter. 88 overall for Jordan. Still 3-1 Pirates.
Gerrit Cole came back out for the bottom of the seventh at just 78 pitches overall. Adam LaRoche flew to center on a 96 mph full-count fastball for the first out of the frame. Jordy Mercer handled a one-hop liner to short off Jayson Werth's bat for out no.2 and a broken bat grounder to second by Ian Desmond ended a 14-pitch inning by the Pirates' right-hander that had him at 92 pitches overall.
Jose Tabata bunted the first pitch of the eighth off his own foot and was called out for the first out of the Pirates' eighth. 14th groundout in the books for the Nats' starter. Taylor Jordan threw a diving 1-2 change by Andrew McCutchen for the second out of the inning, but the right-handed Nats' starter left a 1-2 change up for Pedro Alvarez, who hit an opposite field home run to left for just the third home run of the year Jordan's allowed between A-AA-and-MLB. 4-1 Pirates. Russell Martin's two-out single ended Jordan's night. Ian Krol came on to face Gaby Sanchez. Martin stole second and took third on a throwing error so that he scored when Sanchez doubled to right. 5-1 Pirates after seven and a half in D.C.
Pirates' right-hander Bryan Morris came out for the eighth. Denard Span singled to left on an 0-2 curve. Two outs later he was still standing at first, however, when Bryce Harper grounded out to first to end the home-half of the inning. Tyler Clippard took the mound for the Nats in the ninth and retired the Pirates in order in a 19-pitch frame. 5-1 Pirates after eight and a half. Mark Melancon came out for the bottom of the inning. Anthony Rendon lined out to right. Ryan Zimmerman flew out to center. Adam LaRoche grounded out to first. Ballgame.
Nationals now 48-52