Gio vs Weaver Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: After working his way through two scoreless innings on the mound against the Los Angeles Angels, Washington Nationals' starter Gio Gonzalez picked up a bat in the home-half of the second and drove in a run with an RBI single to center off LA right-hander Jered Weaver. Danny Espinosa scored from third after singling, stealing second and advancing on a groundout and the Nats took a 1-0 lead into the third.
Albert Pujols drove in five runs with his two home runs last night in Nationals Park, and he drove in another tonight with an RBI double to left on Gio Gonzalez's final pitch of the night in the sixth. Mike Trout scored ahead of a throw in by Bryce Harper on the hit and it was all tied up at 1-1 in the series finale in the nation's capital. Pujols took third on a groundout in the next at bat and then scored when Erick Aybar lined a single to left off Nats' reliever Aaron Barrett, making it 2-1 LA.
The Angels added to their lead in the top of the seventh. David Freese doubled to center, took third on a groundout, then scored with two down when Aaron Barrett bounced a first-pitch slider to Collin Cowgill that bounced off Jose Lobaton and got away from the Nats' catcher. . Wild pitch. 3-1 Los Angeles.
A fairly ridiculous interpretation of the new transfer guidelines cost the Nationals in the ninth. Ross Detwiler walked David Freese to start the inning, and Freese was bunted over to second. Raul Ibanez lined out to first in the next at bat, but after Adam LaRoche caught the ball, he went to throw to second looking for a double play and dropped the ball, so both runners were ruled safe. Freese was caught trying to steal third, but another walk to Collin Cowgill put two on for Mike Trout, who singled to left off Drew Storen to make it 4-1 LA.
Jose Lobaton took an 0-2 fastball from Ernesto Frieri to right and just fair for a solo shot in the bottom of the ninth. 4-2. The Nats wouldn't quit. Denard Span singled with one down. Anthony Rendon walked. Jayson Werth got to a 3-0 count against Angels' closer Ernesto Frieri and hit a two-run double by third base that scored both runners and tied things up. 4-4 in the ninth. Adam LaRoche stepped in next against new reliever, Fernando Salas and hit a walk-off winner to left field. Ballgame.
Final score, 5-4 Nationals.
4. Best-Dressed Lefty In Town: Gio Gonzalez held the St. Louis Cardinals to one run on four hits in seven innings pitched last time out in Nationals Park. "He was aggressive in the strike zone," Matt Williams said after Gonzalez's fourth start and third win of the year. "Good fastball tonight, threw his curve ball occasionally to keep them off-balance." Gonzalez entered tonight's outing against the LA Angels with a (3-1) record, a 2.88 ERA, 3.23 FIP, eight walks (2.88 BB/9) and 24 Ks (8.64 K/9) in 25 IP.
Gonzalez entered the finale of the Nationals' three-game Interleague set with the visiting Angels with a (7-2) record, 17 walks (2.54 BB/9) and 64 Ks (9.55 K/9) in 10 career starts and 60 1/3 IP against the other Los Angeles team, but he hadn't faced them since the Nats acquired him from the Oakland A's in the winter of 2011-12.
1st: Gonzalez went to a full count with the first batter of the game, Angels' outfielder Collin Cowgill, but got a called strike three with a 94 mph heater inside for out and K no.1. Mike Trout took a 2-0 change to right in the next at bat for a one-out, line drive double, then took third when Albert Pujols lined a first-pitch fastball to center for a single. Howie Kendrick walked to load the bases in front of Erick Aybar, who lined out to short. Ian Desmond made the catch and tossed the ball to Danny Espinosa at second to double Pujols up and end a 20-pitch inning by the Nationals' lefty.
2nd: Chris Iannetta lined what should have been a double to left on a 1-1 fastball, but it bounced off the MedStar Health sign on the left field wall, and Bryce Harper was on it, firing a throw in to second that held the Angels' catcher at first. Iannetta took second on a groundout to short by David Freese. J.B. Schuck took a four-pitch walk in the next at bat, putting two runners on for Jered Weaver, who K'd trying to bunt with two strikes. Collin Cowgill sent the first pitch he saw out to third and Anthony Rendon took the out at second, ending a 15-pitch inning by Gonzalez, who was up to 35 pitches total after two.
3rd: Mike Trout flew out to right on a 1-1 fastball. Albert Pujols tested Ian Desmond's backhand. Desmond passed the test. Howie Kendrick K'd chasing a 1-2 fastball up high and Gio Gonzalez was through three scoreless on 46 pitches after an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 frame.
4th: Erick Aybar popped up on a 1-0 fastball. Chris Iannetta grounded weakly to third on a 78 mph 1-1 curve. An 80 mph bender got David Freese swinging for out no.3 and Gio Gonzalez's fourth K and the nine-pitch fourth left him at 55 pitches overall after four.
5th: J.B. Shuck flew to left on a 1-1 fastball. Jered Weaver flew out to right on a 94 mph full-count heater. Collin Cowgill K'd swinging at a fastball upstairs, and Gio Gonzalez was through his third straight 1-2-3 frame after 15 pitches. 70 total after five. Eleven straight Angels retired, and still 1-0 Nats after five.
6th: Mike Trout worked the count full as he attempted to avoid becoming the 12th straight Angel set down by Gio Gonzalez, and he drew a leadoff walk to break the streak of retired batters there. Albert Pujols stepped in with a runner on and worked the count full, pushing Gonzalez up to 83 pitches overall before lining an RBI double to left that bounced off the stands that jut out in foul territory, delaying Bryce Harper long enough that his throw home arrived too late to catch Trout. 1-1 game.
Aaron Barrett took over for Gio Gonzalez there. Howie Kendrick grounded out to first to send Pujols over to third with one down and Erick Aybar drove him in with a line drive to left that made it 2-1 Angels after five and a half.
Gio Gonzalez's Line: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 83 P, 49 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
3. DIYGIO: Jered Weaver gave up a one-out single by Danny Espinosa in the second inning of his first career start against the Washington Nationals, then he and Angels' catcher Chris Iannetta let Espinosa steal second so Jose Lobaton's groundout put the Nats' runner on third with two down. Weaver was almost out of the inning, but first he had to face the opposing pitcher, Gio Gonzalez, who improved to 13 for 136 (.096) in his career with a DIY RBI line drive to left that made it 1-0 Nationals after two in the nation's capital.
2. Clipp Tipping?: In his last outing on Monday night, 29-year-old Nats' right-hander Tyler Clippard gave up three hits and four unearned runs 2/3 of an inning of work against the LA Angels, who seemed to know when the right-hander was going to his changeup, leading the veteran reliever to wonder if he was perhaps tipping his pitches?
Nationals' Manager Matt Williams said today that he actually looked at video of the outing to see if he could spot anything, but came away convinced Clippard wasn't tipping anything.
"I've looked at it," Williams said. "I looked at it every angle. I looked at, certainly, the pitches that he's thrown. I would say no. I would say I don't think he's tipping pitches. I think he's missing location and that's getting him in trouble. Especially with his fastball. But I don't think he's giving it away."
Clippard, uh, never ended up pitching tonight. The previous two paragraphs are thus rendered fairly pointless...
1. Why Bryce Why?: Adam LaRoche beat the shift for the second time tonight, hitting a leadoff single to a crowded right field to start the sixth after the Angels took a 2-1 lead in the top of the inning. Bryce Harper stepped to the plate against LA right-hander Jered Weaver and tried to bunt on a 2-2 slider, but popped it up to the catcher instead. Ian Desmond flew to left in the next at bat. Danny Espinosa walked to put two on with two out, but Jose Lobaton's fly to Mike Trout in center ended the threat.
David Freese doubled to center off Aaron Barrett to start the top of the seventh. J.B. Shuck's groundout moved Freese to third, but Barrett dropped a filthy 1-2 slider on Ian Stewart to get a swinging K and out no.1 before throwing a wild pitch with Collin Cowgill at the plate that allowed the Angels' third run to come in. 3-1 Los Angeles.
There was almost another Bryce Harper "hustle" incident in the eighth inning. The Nats' 21-year-old slugger, who was benched for not running out a 1-3 groundout during the last series, grounded to first with one down for what looked like a sure out, but Albert Pujols booted it and all-of-a-sudden Harper found another gear and made it down to first in time to avoid another problem. Harper was stranded on the basepaths two outs later, however.
The Angels added to their lead on an RBI single to right by Mike Trout in the top of the ninth, 4-1.
0. HOLY COW!!: Just when all hope seemed lost, Jose Lobaton hit a solo home run to right to start the Nationals' ninth. Denard Span singled. Anthony Rendon walked. Jayson Werth got up 3-0 on Ernesto Frieri and doubled both runners in. 4-4 game. Adam LaRoche stepped in next and hit a walk-off single to left that brought Werth in. Ballgame. Walk-off. HOLY COW!!!
Nationals now 12-10