With just four games left in the season series with Washington's NL East rivals from Philadelphia, the Nationals trail the Phillies 6-8. The Phils had won four in a row against the Nats before last night and had taken six of the last seven before the Nationals broke out the bats early and held on late in the second game of three in Citizens Bank Park.
27-year-old Nats' lefty Gio Gonzalez, who makes his 32nd start of the year, has made two career starts in Philadelphia, both of them this season, and he has a (1-1) record in those outings with a 2.25 ERA, five walks and 16 Ks in 12.0 IP in the Phillies' home. Overall against Philadelphia, Gonzalez is (2-1) in three starts, all of them this season, with 6 BB (2.84 BB/9), 23 Ks (10.89 K/9) a 1.89 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and .176 BAA over 19.0 IP. In his last five starts this season, going back to an August 31st outing against St. Louis, the potential Cy Young candidate has turned it on as his own and the Nationals' first postseason appearance approaches. Gonzalez has a 0.79 ERA in the last five starts he's made with just five runs, three earned, allowed over 34.0 IP in which he's walked 13 (3.44 BB/9) and struck out 33 (8.74 K/9).
Gonzalez won his 20th game of 2012 last time out, (20-8) and the 7.0 inning outing left him with a 2.84 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 73 walks (3.40 BB/9) and 201 Ks (9.36 K/9) in 193.1 IP for the Nationals. The pitcher considered by some to be Gonzalez's main competition for the NL Cy Young Award this season, the Mets' R.A. Dickey, earned his 20th win of 2012 this afternoon in a 7.2 inning start against the Pirates in which he walked two, K'd 13 and allowed eight hits and three runs. On the year, Dickey's now (20-6) with a 3.52 ERA, 2.19 FIP, 54 BB (2.13 BB/9) and 222 Ks (8.78 K/9) in 227.2 IP.
Can the Nats' left-hander build his resume and help the Nationals win the series with Philadelphia? The Nationals enter tonight's game with their magic number of 4, with a 4.0 game lead over Atlanta with seven to play and a little momentum after last night's win. Did Jayson Werth's interaction with the CBP crowd before his big hit late in last night's game motivate the Phillies? Can the Nats take two of three in Philly and take another step toward their first division crown? Can they start the game already???
• Tonight's lineup behind Gio Gonzalez, with Danny Espinosa back in and likely properly motivated by the day off...
Tonight's lineup: Werth, rf; Harper, cf; Zimmerman, 3b; LaRoche, 1b; Morse, lf; Desmond, ss; Espinosa, 2b; Suzuki, c; Gonzalez, p.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) September 27, 2012