Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Williams Bypassed for Finale

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Williams Bypassed for Finale

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - Trevor Williams won't pitch in the final series of the season against the Washington Nationals as the Pirates will give the start Sunday to Steven Brault.

So that leaves Williams, who studied history at Arizona State University, with a long weekend to explore the nation's capital. Friday, Williams will join a group of teammates to visit wounded troops at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, but he also said he'd like to tour the U.S. Capitol and the National Museum of National History.

"I'm an American history major, so it's one of those things where like, how can I not?" Williams said.

The Pirates opened a four-game series against the Nationals Thursday night. The Nationals long ago locked up the National League East title and are considered strong contenders to make the World Series.

Curiously, they will do so with a better record on the road than at home. Entering the game Thursday, they were 45-32 at Nationals Park, compared with 50-31 away. Even if they sweep the Pirates, they'll still end up with a better road record.

The Pirates, on the other hand, were 29-48 in away games and 44-37 at PNC Park. As fun as visiting museums in Washington might be, the road hasn't been kind to the Pirates this season.

"I'd say over 75 percent of the time your home numbers are always better," manager Clint Hurdle guessed.

It's an even steeper number - closer to 87 percent: As of Thursday, all but four MLB teams have better home records than away. That quartet of teams who are better on the road also are all headed to the postseason, probably speaking less to struggles at home than to how balanced those squads are.

Hurdle said random chance - like how teams' schedules align with players' injuries - could account for why some teams do better on the road. Meanwhile, the Pirates currently are one of nine teams with fewer than 30 road wins, although that could change this weekend.

"They have a kind of club that should be able to win in both places," Hurdle said of the Nationals.

While his approach doesn't change from one stadium to another, catcher Chris Stewart noted how some fields play to a team's insider knowledge, pointing out the air vents and roof at the Milwaukee Brewers' Miller Park as one example. …

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