WASHINGTON — Tom Gorzelanny’s callup to the Pirates’ bullpen was supposed to last only a couple of days, but he is still with the team. That’s partly due to his success — the lefty has tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings over the past two games, allowing two hits and one walk and getting one strikeout — and the delicate status of relievers John Grabow and Matt Capps.
Neither Grabow nor Capps pitched last night. Sean Burnett blew the save opportunity, but Gorzo wound up the winner when the Pirates scored three runs in the 10th inning. About an hour ago, Russell said he would prefer to give Grabow and Capps time off again tonight.
Gorzelanny could be used out of the bullpen tonight, but for no more than an inning. “Three games in a row, that would be a personal record,” Gorzelanny said, grinning.
Russell saw signs of progress from Gorzelanny in the relief outings. “His focus, intensity and the way he attacked the hitters are the way he used to be as a starter,” Russell said. “I hope he takes this back into when he starts every fifth day. It’s a pretty good indication of what he’s capable of doing.”
Gorzelanny was sent to Triple-A with a couple of weeks left in spring training and spent a good chunk of last season with Indy. Yet, Russell said management has not given up on Gorzo.
“We wouldn’t have him starting (at Indy) and we wouldn’t have him around now if we didn’t believe he could do it,” Russell said. “We always hold on to the (idea) that he’s going to be a major help for us at some point. It’s just the consistency that we wanted him to master in Triple-A. He’s got the stuff. He’s got the velocity. It’s just the consistency — keeping the same arm slot, keeping the same delivery. When he does that, he’s very effective.
“He showed us good signs in spring training. The biggest reason we didn’t keep him was he wasn’t the same pitcher every pitch. He needs to find that consistency. Hopefully, this is a jump start for him when he gets back down there (to Indy) and will boost his confidence.”
• If Gorzo conquers his consistency issues, he could supplant Jeff Karstens in the rotation. Karstens (1-2, 5.21) turned in an uneven performance last night — retiring the first five batters he faced with ease, then yielding three runs on four hits and a walk against the last seven batters he faced. Perhaps Karstens would be better suited to a long relief role.
• Pitching change for Thursday: Daniel Cabrera (0-5, 5.95 ERA) was supposed to start for the Nationals, but has been banished to the bullpen. Right-hander Craig Stammen, a 12th-round draft pick in 2005, will make his major league debut. In seven starts for Triple-A Syracuse, Stammen is 4-2 with a 1.80 ERA.