WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 19: Tom Gorzelanny #32 of the Washington Nationals walks to the dugout after giving up five runs in the sixth inning against the Houston Astros at Nationals Park on April 19, 2012 in Washington, DC. Houston won the game 11-4. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)
The Washington Nationals battled back from the five-run deficit Edwin Jackson's rough first put them in last night to get within one run at 5-4 after five innings thanks to an RBI single by Wilson Ramos and Ryan Zimmerman's three-run blast off Astros' right-hander Bud Norris. With two left-handers due up (Brian Bogusevic leading off and C Jason Castro third) in Houston's sixth and Jackson at 89 pitches after a long night on the mound that did improve dramatically after the first, Nats' skipper Davey Johnson turned to left-hander reliever Tom Gorzelanny, who'd thrown 5.1 scoreless innings in relief before last night, walking five and giving up three hits but no runs so far this season.
Gorzelanny gave up hits to both of the left-handers, with Bogusevic singling on a weak fly to left field and Castro lining to left one out later. Three more singles, one a bases-loaded two-run hit by the opposing pitcher, a two-run double and a sac fly followed and it was a 10-4 game before Gorzelanny had escaped the Astros' sixth. Bogusevic, Castro, and Jordan Schafer all lefties, collected hits off Gorzelanny that inning. And Castro singled off him again in the seventh...
"That's the perfect spot for Gorzo coming," Davey Johnson said after the game, "and he gave two hits to left-handers. That's something you don't see very often." Last season, Gorzelanny held left-handed hitters to a .157/.216/.281 line, while right-handers had a .287/.351/.476 line against him. On his career, over eight seasons and 670.1 IP in the majors, the former Pittsburgh Pirates' '03 2nd Round pick has a .235/.300/.361 line against lefties, .275/.356/.439 vs right-handed hitters. After last night, and after just 7.1 IP this year, of course, he's given up hits in 5 of 15 at bats against lefties, and hits in 6 of 16 at bats against right-handers.
With left-handers due up in a close game Davey Johnson went with Gorzelanny in a spot the left-hander had success in last year, but, "When you don't do it, you put yourself behind the eight-ball," Johnson said, and the Astros made the reliever pay, "And that's what happened. We lost that battle, but we didn't lose the war." The Nationals took three of four from Houston, but lost the finale and the chance of a sweep. "He looked the same to me," Johnson said when asked what had gone wrong for Gorzelanny, "but obviously they hit some pretty good pitches and hit them pretty hard. Not a usual Gorzelanny outing, but it's just one of those things."