Results tagged ‘ Gio Gonzalez ’

What to Watch for: 7.5.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

San Diego Padres (40-47) vs. Washington Nationals (44-42)

RHP Jason Marquis (9-4, 3.74) vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann (12-3, 2.46)

The Nationals got their second 8-5 win in as many games in last night’s series opener against the Padres. Gio Gonzalez recovered from a rocky start to notch his third straight win, while Wilson Ramos drove in three more runs after racking up five RBI in his return from the Disabled List on Thursday. Washington sends Jordan Zimmermann to the mound today, in search of his National League-leading 13th win.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Desmond SS

3. Harper LF

4. Zimmerman 3B

5. LaRoche 1B

6. Werth RF

7. Rendon 2B

8. Suzuki C

9. Zimmermann RHP

GREAT 8

By posting five- and three-RBI efforts in twin 8-5 victories the last 48 hours, Wilson Ramos became the fourth National (2005-present) to record as many as eight RBI in two consecutive team games, joining Josh Willingham (9, July 2009; 8, July 2009), Ryan Church (8, April 2006) and Vinny Castilla (8, April 2005). Ramos’ eight-RBI feat is impressive considering it required only eight at-bats.

THE POWER OF THREE

Stephen Strasburg (third, 2.24), Jordan Zimmermann (sixth, 2.46) and Gio Gonzalez (18th, 3.14) all rank among the NL’s top 20 in ERA this season. All three will face the Padres this weekend. Among teams with at least three qualified starters, the Strasburg-Zimmermann-Gonzalez triumvirate is baseball’s best as they have combined on a 2.62 ERA (97 ER/332.2 IP) this season.

WERTH THE WAIT

Thanks to a second consecutive three-hit game, Jayson Werth is now batting .311 (32-for-103) with 12 walks, six doubles, four home runs, 17 runs scored and 18 RBI in 28 games since returning from the DL (right hamstring) on June 4.

Turning Points

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

When turning points of a game happen with mammoth home runs, like the one Wilson Ramos hit on Thursday afternoon, they are easy to spot. But sometimes there’s more subtlety to such events, especially when they take place on the other side of the ball. The Nationals used just such a moment Friday night, as Gio Gonzalez pulled a Houdini act to swing momentum for his team on their way to an 8-5, series-opening victory over the San Diego Padres.

Gio Gonzalez has finally received consistent run support, winning three straight starts.

Gio Gonzalez has finally received consistent run support, winning three straight starts.

Before we get to the moment itself, let’s take a step back to Gonzalez’s last start on Sunday against the Mets. Lost in the melee of the 13-2 Washington onslaught was the fact that Gonzalez was in trouble in the first inning, with two runners on and just one out. But the lefty buckled down to get out of the frame unscathed, and the offense responded with four runs in the next half inning to take a lead the Nationals would never relinquish.

On Friday night, the Padres had already plated a first-inning score when Logan Forsythe and Jesus Guzman opened the second with a single and a double to put runners at second and third with nobody out. But again Gonzalez stepped up his game, striking out the next three batters to get his team back in the dugout still down just a run. This time the bats responded with five runs and never looked back, scoring eight runs for the fourth time in six games.

While that still hasn’t happened every game in the last half-dozen, four out of six is pretty solid. If the Nationals went on to win four-of-six each time over their remaining 76 games, they would finish with 95 wins. While it’s easy to look for a prolonged winning streak to prove a team turnaround – and the Nationals would certainly gladly take one of those – sometimes it is the smaller shifts, the ones that often go unseen, that can have the most profound impact.

Highlights: 7.5.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

7.5.13 – Nationals 8, Padres 5

Stat of the Game: Jayson Werth led the offense with his second straight three-hit game as Washington posted a second consecutive 8-5 victory.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Gio Gonzalez settled down from a shaky start to earn his third straight win.

It Was Over When: Tyler Clippard and Rafael Soriano retired all six batters they faced to close out the victory.

Halfway, Home

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Under gray skies, just across the highway from LaGuardia Airport – from which they would depart shortly after their Sunday series finale – the Washington Nationals obliterated the New York Mets, 13-2, reaching the official halfway point of the season with their 81st game of the 2013 campaign.

The 13 runs marked a season high, easily surpassing the previous high-water mark of 10, which they scored on April 15 at Miami. Four different players mashed home runs, with Adam LaRoche’s massive solo blast opening the scoring and Ian Desmond’s upper deck shot off the glass panels of the club down the left field line at Citi Field capping it. It was a game that reminded the Nationals, their opponent and everyone else in the league just what they are capable of, even if they haven’t shown it as consistently as they’d like through the season’s first half.

Gonzalez's May/June ERA (2.10) is more than a run lower than in his 21-win campaign in 2012 (3.25).

Gonzalez’s May/June ERA (2.10) is more than a run lower than in his 21-win campaign in 2012 (3.25).

Oh, and they get Bryce Harper back today.

Sitting just 10 games (6-4) into a stretch that will see them play 34 of 49 at home, Washington may be finally primed to make the run that seems to elude them after each big victory. They are 22-16 at home this season. They’re 25-19 when Harper plays. In their final 14 games before the All-Star Break, they will draw Milwaukee and San Diego at home, then Philadelphia and Miami on the road. Those opponents are a combined 140-185, all four residing below the .500 mark.

More important than all of that, the team as it has been comprised has won seven of its last 11 games, outscoring opponents 52-39 over that stretch. Desmond, who leads all Major League shortstops in extra-base hits, has six home runs in six different games during that time, the Nationals winning five of them. Plus, he’s coming off of a torrid month of June that saw him hit .306 (30-for-98) with a .988 OPS and 28 RBI, the most ever in a single month by a Nationals player.

Meanwhile, quietly, the pitching is looking more and more like last year, not even considering 11-game winner Jordan Zimmermann. Since May 1, Stephen Strasburg (1.93) and Gio Gonzalez (2.10) have carried the National League’s third and fourth-lowest ERAs. In the 22 games dating back to June 8, the bullpen has saved all seven of its opportunities, going 5-4 with a 2.12 ERA (17 ER/72.1 IP) and 67 strikeouts.

The first half has not gone the way that nearly anyone believed it would. But with the pieces starting to come together, the lineup and bullpen rounding into form, and the team finally running at nearly full strength, the prospects look bright for an exciting second half.

Highlights: 6.30.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

6.30.13 – Nationals 13, Mets 2

Stat of the Game: The Nationals blasted four home runs and set a season high with 13 runs scored to take the series.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Gio Gonzalez allowed just three hits and two walks over seven scoreless frames to earn the victory.

It Was Over When: Washington opened the game up with a four-run second inning and put it well out of reach with six runs in the eighth.

What to Watch for: 6.30.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook 

Washington Nationals (40-40) vs. New York Mets (33-44)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (4-3, 3.31) vs. RHP Zack Wheeler (1-0, 3.18)

The Nationals and Mets split the first two games of the series, setting up a rubber-match between promising rookie Zack Wheeler and lefty ace Gio Gonzalez in today’s Sunday matinee. Gonzalez is 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in four career starts against the Mets at Citi Field.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Bernadina LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

THE SERIES

Washington has won 14 of its last 18 games at Citi Field. The Nationals are also 10-2 in one-run games against the Mets since the beginning of 2011. Washington has claimed two straight season-series (14-4 in 2012, 10-8 in 2011), but are just 3-4 against New York so far this season.

HARPER HEALING

Playing for Double-A Harrisburg on Saturday, Bryce Harper went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored at Bowie. In four rehab contests (two in Double-A Eastern League, two in Single-A Carolina League) this week, Harper has gone 4-for-11 (.364) with three walks, a double, a triple, a home run, five runs scored and three RBI.

OPPORTUNITY’S KNOCKING

At 5-4 (4-3 at home, 1-1 on the road), the Nationals are nine games into a 49-game stretch (June 20-August 15) in which they will enjoy 34 games within the comfy confines of Nationals Park. Washington is playing .579-ball in D.C. (22-16), but has struggled some on the road (18-24, .429).

Highlights: 6.25.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

6.25.13 – Nationals 7, Diamondbacks 5

Stat of the Game: Adam LaRoche had three hits, including a three-run homer, to lead the Nationals offense.

Under-the-Radar Performance: Gio Gonzalez won his first game since May 5, allowing two earned over 6.1 innings of work.

It Was Over When: LaRoche’s opposite-field shot capped a five-run third inning to put Washington ahead for good.

Bonus Video: Bryce Harper’s rehab appearance at High-A Potomac

What to Watch for: 6.25.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook 

Arizona Diamondbacks (41-34) vs. Washington Nationals (37-38)

 RHP Trevor Cahill (3-8, 3.92) vs. LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.34) 

Following a split of a four-game set with Colorado and an off day on Monday, Washington hosts NL West-leading Arizona for three games beginning Tuesday night. In a battle of former teammates, Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill go head-to-head with the Nationals looking to draw back to the .500 mark.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Werth RF

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Desmond SS

6. Tracy 3B

7. Bernadina LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

GOOD WOOD, SLICK LEATHER

Ian Desmond currently leads all MLB shortstops with 33 extra-base hits (19 doubles, two triples, 12 home runs) and nine game-winning RBI. Remarkably, nine of Desmond’s 12 home runs this season have been go-ahead blasts. Defensively, he has played a career-high and D.C.-baseball record 56 consecutive errorless games (221 total chances) as a shortstop since last committing a miscue, April 21 at New York (NL). This is currently the longest streak of its kind among MLB shortstops.

ELITE EIGHT

Gio Gonzalez has not earned a victory in any of his last eight outings, but for no fault of his own. The lefty is holding opponents to a .174 batting average over that span, amassing a 2.18 ERA (13 ER/53.2 IP) with 52 strikeouts. The Nationals have gone 3-5 in those eight games.

D-BACKS AGAINST THE WALL

The Nationals (2005-present) are 8-6-2 (win-loss-tie) in series play against the Diamondbacks, thanks in part to a 12-4 mark in one-run games. Washington is 16-11 (.593) against the D-backs since the beginning of 2009, and the Nats .538 winning percentage against Arizona is trumped by only a .545 mark against Pittsburgh as the best against any opponent over that stretch.

The Walking Dead

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

For six innings Wednesday night, as they have much of the season to date, the Nationals struggled to find any sort of offensive rhythm against Phillies starter Kyle Kendrick. And then, slowly, piece by piece, the offense collected itself, as the bats awakened just in the nick of time to force extra innings and steal a win to end a long, grinding road trip.

The bats lay dormant, unable to generate anything more than Adam LaRoche‘s second-inning single through six frames. Meanwhile, two batters in, the Phillies were out to a 2-0 lead on the strength of Michael Young’s two-run home run. Gio Gonzalez settled in after that, as he did not allow a hit the rest of the way through seven innings of work. He notched 11 strikeouts, the most he’s ever recorded as a member of the Nationals, matching his career high.

Jayson Werth deilvered a pair of clutch, two-out, RBI-singles to force extra innings.

Jayson Werth deilvered a pair of clutch, two-out, RBI-singles to force extra innings.

Finally, a solid, patient at-bat by Ryan Zimmerman led to a one-out walk in the seventh, and he stood at second base with two outs and Jayson Werth coming to the plate. The former Phillie reached out and rapped a single to right field to score the run and cut the lead in half, a big clutch hit in a season sorely needing more of them.

After a quiet eighth frame, the Nationals would be tasked with trying to deliver Jonathan Papelbon his second blown save in three nights after entering the series a perfect 13-for-13 on the season. Denard Span, whose job in most any situation – but especially this one – is to get on base, did just that, chopping an infield single. He remained at first until, with two outs, LaRoche walked, bringing up Werth once more. He, of the “be ready to eat some face” comment following the tough loss the night before, ripped another two-out, RBI-single, this one to left, as Span flew around third, scoring the tying run without a throw. But, as had been the case Monday night in Papelbon’s blown save on Chad Tracy‘s pinch-hit, two-out, two-strike home run, the Nationals were unable to push ahead. Ian Desmond struck out, stranding runners at the corners, spiking his helmet in frustration.

“After the at-bat against Papelbon, I’m just thinking, ‘Give me one more chance,’” Desmond said after the game.

The Washington bullpen conspired to afford Desmond and the Nationals that opportunity. Tyler Clippard fired an inning and two thirds of scoreless ball, giving way to Ian Krol, who got Dominic Brown – Monday’s hero – to end the bottom of the ninth. After the Nationals offense threatened, but failed to score, in the top of the 10th, Drew Storen fanned a pair and put up a zero in the bottom half, taking the game to the 11th inning.

Ian Desmond's first career grand slam won it in the 11th.

Ian Desmond’s first career grand slam won it in the 11th.

With one out, it was again Zimmerman who got the wheels turning, lacing a low liner to the left-center field wall for a double. That prompted Phillies manager Charlie Manuel and the Phillies to play matchup, deciding to intentionally walk LaRoche to get to the man with both of Washington’s RBI, Werth. An unintentional walk later, the bases were loaded, Desmond stepping to the plate with the second chance he begged for earlier. After falling behind 0-2, the shortstop worked the count back to 2-2, where he annihilated a hanging slider from Michael Stutes into the seats beyond the left-center field wall.

“I did the same thing I always do,” said Desmond when asked about the blast after the game. “See the white ball, put the barrel on it.”

Before Desmond had reached the jubilant visitors dugout, rivers of Phillies fans had already begun streaming for the exits, an actualized shifting of the tides. Rafael Soriano quietly shut the door, and the Nationals returned to Washington with an enormous win and a positive end to their road trip, thanks to perhaps the biggest swing of the season from their shortstop.

“He’s quite a character,” said Nationals skipper Davey Johnson of Desmond. “He’s got a lot of big hits for us in the past.”

It was Desmond’s first career grand slam (and Washington’s first of the season), but he has had plenty of success with the bases loaded, as it was his 17th hit in 40 such at-bats, good for a .425 batting average. The timing and importance of the blast hearkened back to Desmond’s game-winner on May 2, 2012, when he swung a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 victory with a two-out, walk-off blast off Arizona’s J.J. Putz.

“That’s like how I remember it from last year,” said catcher Kurt Suzuki of the feeling in the dugout after the blast. “It was pretty exciting.”

If Wednesday night’s series finale in Philadelphia turns out to be a microcosm of the 2013 Nationals season, recounting what has happened to date and foreshadowing what lies ahead, we are all in for a nerve-fraying, heart-stopping, hair-graying ride before the year is done. But if the ending portends anything of the future, it will have been worth the ride.

What to Watch for: 6.19.13

Follow @Nationals on Twitter | Like the Nationals on Facebook

Washington Nationals (34-36) vs. Philadelphia Phillies (35-37)

LHP Gio Gonzalez (3-3, 3.40) vs. RHP Kyle Kendrick (6-4, 3.76)

The Nationals wrap up their nine-game, three-city road swing, concluding a stretch of 38 games in which 28 have been on the road. Gio Gonzalez will look to get back in the win column for the first time since May 5 at Pittsburgh. Gio’s lack of victories over his past seven outings has been no fault of his own, however, as he has posted a sterling 2.12 ERA (11 ER/46.2 IP), a 1.07 WHIP and a .185 batting average against over that stretch.

NATIONALS LINEUP:

1. Span CF

2. Rendon 2B

3. Zimmerman 3B

4. LaRoche 1B

5. Werth RF

6. Desmond SS

7. Lombardozzi LF

8. Suzuki C

9. Gonzalez LHP

BENCH (IM)PRESS

Including Jeff Kobernus’ pinch-homer in the eighth inning last night, Washington’s bench (including all players not starting on any given day) is 5-for-13 with a double, three home runs and three RBI in the last five contests. Chad Tracy contributed two of the aforementioned home runs, a game-tying pinch-homer in the ninth inning of Saturday’s win at Cleveland and a game-tying blast in the ninth inning on Monday at Philadelphia.

SINGLE CRUISES

The Nationals have blasted eight home runs in their last four contests, all of which were hit with the bases empty (eight of the nine homers hit on this road trip have been solo shots). In all 39 of the 63 homers Washington has hit this season (62%) have been solo trips around the bases. 10 teams in the Major Leagues have higher percentages of solo homers in 2013, paced by Philadelphia (72%, 49/68).

THE ROOKIE IS RAKING

Anthony Rendon has reached base safely in 16 straight MLB games, pocketing a .462 on-base percentage (22 hits, eight walks) during astretch that spans two stints with the Nationals. During this stretch, the rookie posted a career-best 10-game hit streak from May 2-June 16.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 537 other followers