Pregame: Morton defuses power hitters


Morton3WASHINGTON — At the riski of jinxing it … Charlie Morton has not allowed a home run in 64 1/3 innings. That’s the longest such streak since Kris Benson kept the ball in the yard for 72 1/3 innings in 2004.

»»» Morton hasn’t pitched in 11 days, a layoff that never was fully explained by management. There was talk that Morton was fatigued and needed time to rest. (Even though he’s said repeatedly he feels fine.) There was talk of fixing his mechanics. (However, Charlie told me yesterday his that “if anything, my mechanics have gotten better since the beginning of the year.”) Whatever the reason, the break gave Morton a chance to regroup mentally and revisit his delivery with roving instructor Jim Benedict — “He was a big part of the adjustments that we made,” Morton said.

If it was soley up to Morton, he would’ve made his last start as scheduled: “I’ve been wanting to pitch ever since I pitched last. It gets a little frustrating.”

»»» Happy Canada Day! (Sorry, still stuck a little bit in Great White North mode. That’s what happens when it takes you TWO HOURS to get through Customs early on Friday morning at Pearson Airport in Toronto.)

»»» At the time of the “rainout” May 17 in Washington, the Pirates were riding a six-game losing streak. Since then, they’ve gone 23-16, the fifth-most wins in the National League. In June, the Pirates gained 4.5 games in the standings and had the best record (16-11) among NL Central clubs.

»»» At Low-A West Virginia, righty Casey Sandler went on the DL with a sore shoulder. Lefty Jhonathan Ramos was moved down from High-A Bradenton to fill in.

Lineups for today’s game:

Pirates (41-39) – 1. Alex Presley lf, 2. Chase d’Arnaud 3b, 3. Andrew McCutchen cf, Matt Diaz rf, 5. Lyle Overbay 1b, 6. Ronny Cedeno ss, 7. Josh Harrison 2b, 8. Mike McKenry c, 9. Charlie Morton rhp (7-4, 3.77)

Nationals (40-41) – TBA. 9. Tom Gorzelanny lhp (2-6, 4.18)