What to Watch for: 5.17.13

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Washington Nationals (22-19) vs. San Diego Padres (18-22)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-2, 4.20) vs. RHP Burch Smith (0-0, 54.00)

The Nationals look for a second victory in as many nights to open this four-game set in San Diego as the send lefty Gio Gonzalez to the mound. Gonzalez has turned in three quality starts in his last four outings, going 2-1 with a 2.88 ERA over that stretch. He’ll be opposed by Burch Smith, making his second career Major League start.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Lombardozzi LF

3. Harper RF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Desmond SS

7. Espinosa 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

START ME UP

Washington’s starting pitchers have been dominant of late, rolling off a string of seven consecutive starts yielding two or fewer earned runs. The rotation has posted a 1.83 ERA (9 ER/44.1 IP) and a 3.5/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio (28 K/8 BB) during that stretch. For the season, Nationals starting pitchers rank second in the NL/MLB with a 3.14 ERA (88 ER/252.0 IP).

POWER OUTAGE

Washington’s pitching staff, which ranks second in the NL (third in MLB) having allowed just 32 home runs, has thrown 64.0 consecutive innings without surrendering a long ball, a stretch that has spanned seven-plus contests. The club record for consecutive games without allowing a homer is 11, accomplished September 5-16, 2011.

THRESHOLD OF THREE

The Nationals offense has averaged 3.5 runs/game this season, which ranks 13th in the NL/28th in MLB. The team is 19-2 when scoring three or more runs, compared to 3-17 when crossing the plate fewer than three times in a game.

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