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Saturday's scouting report: Nationals at Pirates

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Friday, May 23, 2014, 9:42 p.m.
 

X-factors

Pirates beat reporter Rob Biertempfel's inside look at Saturday's game:

• The Gerrit Cole vs. Stephen Strasburg matchup is the NL's first between two pitchers who were No. 1 overall draft picks since Kris Benson (Mets) faced Paul Wilson (Reds) on May 16, 2005, in New York. Strasburg made his debut vs. the Pirates on June 8, 2010, and he is 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in four career starts against them. Cole beat the Nationals in his only start against them, allowing one run on two hits in seven innings (1.29 ERA).

• The Nationals hit at least one homer in 13 of their first 15 games, but have gone deep in only 15 of 32 games since. Blame the injury bug. During their stretch of reduced power, the Nats have not had sluggers Ryan Zimmerman (0 games), Bryce Harper (9 games, 0 HR), Wilson Ramos (11 games, 0 HR) and Adam LaRoche (18 games, 3 HR) in the lineup on a regular basis.

The Buzz

Manager Clint Hurdle has been asked to speak at Franklin Regional High's commencement service June 6, although plans have not yet been finalized. “It's humbling,” Hurdle said.

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