Gio Gonzalez, as he always does, drew a cross in the dirt in front of the mound before starting to throw to catcher Kurt Suzuki in preparation for tonight's start. The intersecting lines of the cross met two feet in front of the rubber with the base pointing towards home. The Nats' 27-year-old lefty hit the line halfway down with his plant foot on each pitch he delivered as he tried to warm up in a 45° Nationals Park for game two of three with the Miami Marlins. Gonzalez, who won 21 games last year and last pitched here in Game 5 of the NLDS, needed just nine pitches to retire the Fish in order in a 9-pitch, 1-2-3 first.
20-year-old Nats' slugger Bryce Harper singled to center on a first-pitch curve from veteran right-hander Kevin Slowey to extend his current hit-streak to eleven-straight regular season games. Harper's hit moved Denard Span up a base to second after the Nats' leadoff man had walked to start the game, but both runners were stranded two outs later when both Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche flew out to end the first. 0-0 in D.C.
Justin Ruggiano reached safely on a sharp grounder toward short that Ian Desmond fielded in spite of getting short-hopped, but threw away. E6. Gio Gonzalez got the next two Marlins in order, with help from a rangy Jayson Werth in right, and had two scoreless vs the Marlins on the board. 24 pitches through two after a 15-pitch frame. Gonzalez grounded into a force at second to end a quick home half of the frame, and was back on the mound quickly in the top of the third.
Marlins' shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria battled for nine pitches before grounding out to second to start the Marlins' third. Gonzalez's first strikeout out the year came on a called strike three against the opposing pitcher, who took a full-count fastball and headed back to the dugout. Juan Pierre collected Miami's first legit hit when he lined a 93 mph, full-count four-seamer through the right side of the infield, but the Marlins' outfielder was thrown out at second by Kurt Suzuki, bringing a 24-pitch third to an end.
Denard Span walked to start the game, and doubled down the right field line to start the Nationals' third, but he was stranded there three outs later when Kevin Slowey got a groundout to short from Jayson Werth, a swinging K from Harper and a grounder back to the mound from Ryan Zimmerman. 0-0 after three in Washington, D.C.
Gio Gonzalez's second K of the game came on a 3-2 curve in the dirt that Giancarlo Stanton chased for out no.2 of the Marlins' fourth. After a 13-pitch frame, the Nats' left-hander was at 61 overall with a one-hitter through four against the Fish, who were up to 13.0 scoreless innings to start the season. Danny Espinosa sent Justin Ruggiano racing back toward the track in center, where he made an over-the-shoulder catch for the final out of the fourth. Still 0-0 in the nation's capital. The 13-pitch frame had Kevin Slowey at 56 pitches total after four and had Gio Gonzalez back out on the mound for the fifth.
Justin Ruggiano put the glove down and picked up his bat, doubling to the right field corner to start the fifth with the Marlins' second hit. A four-pitch walk to Miguel Olivo followed, pushing Gonzalez up to 69 pitches as the temperature in Nationals Park dropped to around 43°. The Nationals' left-hander started a 1-6-3 DP in the next AB, however, as Casey Kotchman grounded back to the mound on an 0-2 fastball. Two down. And a swinging K from Adeiny Hechavarria ended Gonzalez's fifth scoreless after 16 pitches with the Nats' starter at 77 pitches overall.
Gonzalez did Ruggiano one better with one down in the bottom of the fifth, putting his own glove down, picking up his own bat and launching a first-pitch curve to left and into the seats for a solo blast and a DIY lead. 1-0 Nationals. Denard Span walked in the next at bat, but was caught stealing with Jayson Werth at the plate and Werth K'd swinging to end the inning with the Nationals ahead.
The Nats' left-handed starter issued his second walk of the game to the opposing pitcher in the top of the sixth. Juan Pierre's sac bunt moved Slowey to second. A high 0-2 heater go Donovan Solano swinging for out no.2 and Gonzalez's fourth K and an 0-2 curve got Giancarlo Stanton swinging for out no.3 and K no.5. The 14-pitch frame had the Nationals' starter at 91 pitches total after six scoreless innings pitched. Ryan Zimmerman ripped an 0-2 sinker to right for a one-out triple in the Nationals' sixth and his first hit of 2013. Slowey walked Adam LaRoche in the next at bat, putting runners on the corners for Ian Desmond. That was it for the Marlins' starter. Reliever Ryan Webb came on in relief and got a double play grounder from the Nats' shortstop to end the bottom of the inning.
Gio Gonzalez's Line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 91 P, 55 S, 8/2 GO/FO.
Ryan Mattheus entered the game to the strains of Katy Perry's "Firework" and promptly surrendered a leadoff single by the Marlins' Placido Polanco. A 4-6-3 DP off Justin Ruggiano's bat followed, however, and a backwards K from Miguel Olivo in the next AB ended an eight-pitch frame with the score still 1-0 Nationals. An error by Marlins' second baseman Donovan Solano put Nats' infielder Danny Espinosa on to start the home half of the seventh. A sac bunt moved Espinosa to second and wild pitch by Webb with Chad Tracy up allowed the runner to take third. Tracy walked and was replaced on the basepaths by Roger Bernadina, and a grounder to second in the next at bat allowed Espinosa to score as Bernadina and the Marlins' second baseman collided. 2-0 Nationals. Denard Span was safe at first with two down, but Jayson Werth's fly to right ended the seventh.
Drew Storen needed 14 pitches, nine of them strikes to retire the Marlins in order in the top of the eighth, striking Chris Coghlan out with a 1-2 slider to end the frame with the Nationals still ahead 2-0. Bryce Harper hit his first double of the 2013 season off the curly-W on the right field wall and then came around to score on an RBI single by Ryan Zimmerman, who took a first-pitch fastball from A.J. Ramos back up the middle to give the Nationals a 3-0 lead over the Fish after eighth.
Rafael Soriano came out in the top of the ninth looking for save no.2 of 2013. A filthy 1-2 slider got Juan Pierre swinging for out no.1. Donovan Solano hit a 1-2 slider through short for a one-out single that brought Giancarlo Stanton to the plate. Soriano got behind 3-1, and missed with a knee-high fastball outside on a full-count pitch to the Marlins' slugger. Placido Polanco stepped in with two on and one out and flew to right for out no.2 and Justin Ruggiano's fly to center ended the game.
Untuck that jersey, son. Ballgame.
Nationals win, 3-0 final.
Nationals now 2-0.