• Today's Top 5:
5. 5.0 IP+: Asked in a late-2010 press conference about D.C. GM Mike Rizzo's opinion that a no.1 starter was on the top of Washington's winter wish list, Nats' Skipper Jim Riggleman agreed, and said that for the Nationals, "...to really take [the] next step, to add 10 more wins, we're going to have to up it a little bit in the starting rotation, and your starters have got to go out there and go 6.0-7.0 innings. If you go 5.0 innings, 5.1, that type of stuff, then you really need to add another bullpen guy, our bullpen's done a good job, but you need another real quality bullpen guy cause you're going to them so often." 17 games into the 2011 season, the Nationals have gotten at least 5.0, and thus far an average of 5.94 IP per start from their starting pitchers, and as the Nats (@NationalsPR) noted again on Twitter this morning, after Jordan Zimmermann's 6.0-inning outing last night, "Washington is the only team in MLB that has received at least 5.0 innings from its starters in every game this season."
Tom Gorzelanny, acquired in a deal with the Chicago Cubs this past winter, is called upon to continue the streak for the Nats this afternoon in a daytime matinee with the St. Louis Cardinals in Busch Stadium. The 28-year-old left-hander has gotten into the sixth in each of his first two starts for the Nationals, allowing four hits and six runs in 5.1 IP against the Mets and 5 hits and 2 ER in 6.0 innings last time out against the Brewers. Against the Cardinals this afternoon, Gorzelanny needs 108 pitches to do it, but he gets through the fifth having allowed just two runs and two hits for the Nats' 18th-straight 5.0 inning+ outing, though the Nats are trailing 2-0 when he completes the fifth.
4. 2-Out BB: Jordan Zimmermann said last night that his two-out walk to Albert Pujols was his biggest mistake of the night as it led to the Cards' slugger scoring what would eventually be the winning run. Tom Gorzelanny puts Pujols on with a two-out walk in the first, and then gives up a long fly ball to Matt Holliday, who makes the Nats' lefty pay for walking the St. Louis' slugger. 2-0 Cards on Holliday's second HR of the season.
3. "No No-No!" - Shia LeBouf: Jayson Werth's two-out single in the fourth is the Washington Nationals' first hit of Cards' right-hander Kyle Lohse. A two-out walk to Adam LaRoche follows, but Ian Desmond's groundout ends any chance of a threat by the Nationals. Tom Gorzelanny gives up a leadoff single to Matt Holliday in the Cardinals' fourth, and two outs later issues the fourth walk he's allowed in four innings, but a weak grounder to second from Jon Jay ends Gorzelanny's fourth inning of work in which he's thrown 90 pitches, 51 strikes.
2. Cy Lohse: Kyle Lohse, who'd walked just two batters in three starts before this afternoon's game, walks two Nats, and gives up two hits, but he holds the Nationals off the board through seven, and needs just 82 pitches to do so. The Nationals get a two-out single by Werth in the fourth and a leadoff single by Michael Morse in the fifth, but neither results in runs, as the Nationals go down quickly through seven in the series finale in St. Louis. Lohse retires the Nationals in order in the eighth and he's only thrown 97, so he'll probably be back.
1. It All Goes Wrong: Collin Balester throws a scoreless seventh, but he gets hit hard and has to pay for the free passes he issues in the Cardinals' eighth. A leadoff walk to Colby Rasmus (or anyone really) in front of Albert Pujols comes right back to bit Balester when Pujols launches a long, high fly to left and GONE! Two-run blast, 4-0 Cardinals. Matt Holliday draws a walk and scores on an RBI double by David Freese. 5-0 Cards. Lohse hits Danny Espinosa to put the leadoff runner on in the Nats' ninth, but three outs later the Cards have a 5-0 win and a 2-1 series victory.
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Nationals now 9-9.