PITTSBURGH - There was a familiar face staring in at Washington third baseman Carter Kieboom when he came to the plate in the top of the fourth inning here Saturday night against the Pirates.
Wil Crowe, the starting pitcher for the Pirates, was a teammate with the infielder for part of the 2019 season at Triple-A Fresno.
After pitching in two games for the Nationals last year, Crowe was traded to Pittsburgh in the deal that brought first baseman Josh Bell to Washington.
Crowe, who turned 27 Thursday, struck out Kieboom in the top of the fourth but Keibert Ruiz followed with a three-run double to give the Nationals a 3-2 lead. Crowe bounced back to strike out Luis García - his teammate at Double-A Harrisburg for part of 2019 - but the damage had been done.
Before he was lifted for a pinch-hitter in the last of the fourth, Crowe yielded four hits, three earned runs, and two walks while fanning six batters, but the Pirates’ offense got him off the hook as the Bucs stormed back to down the Nationals, 10-7.
“I have good buddies over there,” said Crowe, noting Kieboom and García. “I was joking around with Kieboom a bit. It was good to face those guys.”
Crowe began this year at the alternate site for the Pirates then was called up on April 25. He was sent to Triple-A on June 3, then came back to the Pirates nine days later.
The Tennessee native entered Saturday with a mark of 3-7 with an ERA of 5.94 in the majors this season.
The fourth inning was his downfall on Saturday.
“I was fresh; I felt good. I was fine,” Crowe said.
Before he took the mound, Crowe, his teammates and the crowd of nearly 18,000 was treated to an inspiring pre-game ceremony to honor the victims of 9-11.
More than 100 family members of victims of United Flight 93, which crashed about 80 miles southeast in Shanksville, PA twenty years ago, were recognized at PNC Park.
“A really good job” by the Pirates, Crowe said of the event.
“I thought it was very inspiring,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “It was really special to be part of.”
“Today was a tough day,” said Pirates’ slugger Bryan Reynolds, who hit his 23rd homer, who watched some of the televised events from Shanksville.
Crowe was drafted by the Nationals in the second round in 2017 out of the University of South Carolina.
His last year in the minor league system with Washington was in 2019, when he was 7-6, 3.87 in 16 starts with Double-A Harrisburg and 0-4, 6.17 in 10 starts at Triple-A Fresno.
He was traded after last season by the Nationals in the deal that landed Bell, who hit a homer here Friday against former team and had a single during a three-run rally in the third Saturday.
Josiah Gray made his ninth start for the Nationals and Dave Martinez on Saturday and gave up five runs in five innings. The trade with the Dodgers landed the Nationals the battery of Gray and catcher Keibert Ruiz, who had to leave the game Saturday after he was hit by a pitch in the side of his face.
“It’s important for Davey to see these [new] players,” first-base coach Randy Knorr told Federal Baseball before Saturday’s game.
The Nationals are 58-84 and the Pirates are 52-90. Patrick Corbin, who threw on the outfield grass before Saturday’s game, is slated to start for Washington today, against Bryse Wilson of Pittsburgh.