Sandy Alderson Fan Top 5:
5. Quick Recap: New York Mets' second baseman Daniel Murphy managed to get a sharp grounder toward first base under Adam LaRoche's glove and NY's leadoff man took third as the ball rolled into the corner in right field in Nationals Park. David Wright lined Washington Nationals' starter Gio Gonzalez's next offering to left field and the Nats were down 1-0 early in the series opener in the nation's capital.
The Mets took a 2-0 lead in the second when Travis d'Arnaud doubled and scored from third on a two-out pop fly to right by right-handed starter Zack Wheeler that fell in front of a charging and sliding Jayson Werth. 2-0.
The Nationals cut the Mets' lead in half in the bottom of the second, loading the bases against Wheeler with back-to-back walks by Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond and a one-out walk to Asdrubal Cabrera before a wild pitch to Jose Lobaton allowed the Nats' first run to come in. 2-1.
The Mets added to their lead in the seventh. Drew Storen was on the mound against Daniel Murphy with the bases loaded and one out when he got what looked like it could be an inning-ending DP that bounced off Nats' second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera's glove. Two run scored on the hit. 4-1 NY.
Lucas Duda dumped a two-out pop into the left-center grass for an RBI single later in the seventh and the Mets took a 5-1 lead over the Nats.
Kirk Nieuwenhuis lined a one-out single back up the middle and off Blake Treinen's shoulder to drive in the Mets' sixth run in the top of the eighth. 6-1 NY.
That's how it ended. 6-1 Mets final.
4. Bounceback: Gio Gonzalez went just 3 ⅔ innings last time out, in a start against the Philadelphia Phillies at home in the nation's capital, giving up eight hits and five runs before Washington Nationals' manager Matt Williams pulled the plug.
The Nats' 28-year-old lefty started the outing with three scoreless innings of work, but 30 pitches and two outs into the fourth, having faced nine batters and raised his pitch count to 77 pitches, Gonzalez was done.
The left-hander was coming off a strong outing, however, in which he held the Cincinnati Reds to one run on four hits in seven innings of work. Against the Phillies, he didn't have it.
"I don't know," Williams said when asked what went wrong.
"He threw strikes, but he got behind a little bit. They took some good swings on him. Hit the fastball tonight. Just didn't have it. Not as good as the last time out."
Gonzalez was visibly frustrated, talking to himself on the mound as he's wont to do when things don't go as planned.
"He just does that," Williams said. "He talks to himself out there sometimes when his mechanics aren't right."
Williams was sure to stress that it was just something mechanical, and not a flare up of the shoulder issues which landed Gonzalez on the DL earlier this season.
"He's fine," Williams said. "There's no issue with his shoulder or anything like that. He's just off."
"I felt good," Gonzalez told reporters. "Just some ground balls didn't go my way. They found the holes. I got the pitch I wanted. I got the result I wanted. But they just found their way through. Base hits. The fourth inning just got me."
This time out, he was facing the New York Mets, against whom he had one good start (4/2: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER) this season and one rough one (5/7: 3 IP, 7 H, 5 ER).
Over the course of his career, he'd fared well against the Nationals' NL East rivals, going (6-2) in 10 starts with a 3.10 ERA, 24 walks (3.72 BB/9) and 53 Ks (8.22 K/9) in 58 IP over which Mets' hitter put up a combined .195/.277/.310 line against him.
His 11th outing against New York began with a backwards K...
1st: Juan Lagares K'd looking at a 1-2 curve. Daniel Murphy snuck a grounder under Adam LaRoche's glove at first and took three bases as it rolled into the corner. David Wright stepped up next and lined the first pitch to left for an RBI single and a 1-0 lead. Wright stole second with Lucas Duda up and took third on Duda's groundout to first. Eric Campbell worked the count full and K'd swinging at a high heater. K no.2. 19-pitch frame.
2nd: Mets' catcher Travis d'Arnaud doubled to left on the first pitch from Gio Gonzalez in the second. Chris Young took an 0-2 fastball inside for a called strike three and out no.1. Ruben Tejada sent a one-hopper to Asdrubal Cabrera for the second out of the inning. Zack Wheeler popped to right with two down and it fell in for a single in front of a sliding Jayson Werth. RBI single. 2-0 Nats. Juan Lagares dropped a two-out single into short center. Daniel Murphy sent a high fly to the track in left-center where Denard Span made the catch for out no.3 of an 11-pitch inning that left Gonzalez at 30 total after two.
Thank you to the 40,686 fans who joined us tonight, selling out #Nats Park for the fifth back-to-back sellouts in Nationals Park history!— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 6, 2014
3rd: David Wright grounded out to his counterpart on the Nats to start the Mets' third. Lucas Duda did the same, to his counterpart. Eric Campbell K'd swinging at a 2-2 change to end a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 third that left Gonzalez at 40 total after three.
4th: Travis d'Arnaud grounded out to short. Chris Young did too. An 0-2 fastball got Ruben Tejada swinging and got Gonzalez through a quick, seven-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth. 47 pitches total.
5th: Zack Wheeler K'd looking at a 2-2 fastball for the first out of the fifth and Gonzalez's 6th K. Juan Lagares grounded out to short for out no.2. Daniel Murphy walked with two down, but David Wright popped up to right to end a 14-pitch frame. 61 total after five.
6th: Lucas Duda sent a fly ball to center for the first out of the Mets' sixth. Eric Campbell gave Ian Desmond some work on a groundout to short. Travis d'Arnaud stepped in with two down and sent a one-hopper to short for out no.3. 17-pitch frame. 78 total after six. 13 of 14 set down.
7th: Chris Young started down 0-2, but walked to start the Mets' seventh. Anthony Rendon had a grounder off Ruben Tejada's bat bounce off him for a single that put two runners on and ended Gonzalez's night...
• Gio Gonzalez's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 89 P, 58 S, 9/3 GO/FO.
3. Wheeler Dealer: In two starts this season against the Washington Nationals before tonight's, 24-year-old NY Mets' starter Zack Wheeler was (0-2) with a 6.00 ERA in 12 IP over which he gave up 14 hits, four walks and eight earned runs while striking out 11. Nats' hitter put up a combined .298/.353/.511 line against him in those starts, one of which took place in the nation's capital, where he gave up seven of the hits and five of the runs he allowed.
Over his first two major league seasons, the former San Francisco Giants' '09 1st Round pick, acquired by the Mets in the July 2011 Carlos Beltran deal, was (1-4) career against the Nationals after his first two starts this season with a 4.75 ERA in 30 ⅓ IP in which Nats' hitters put up a .277/.326/.462 line against him.
On the year before tonight, Wheeler was (3-4) in nine starts at home and (3-4) in 13 outings away from Citi Field with a 3.30 ERA on the road (vs 4.03 in NY) a 3.60 FIP (vs 3.45) and a .234/.320/.342 line against (vs .260/.338/.395).
He came into tonight's start on a roll, however, after going undefeated in six starts in July over which he was (3-0) with a 1.67 ERA for the month, and a .228/.290/.386 line against in 32 ⅓ IP.
Wheeler's start in D.C. tonight began with a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 inning in which he induced three ground ball outs.
Nats' first baseman Adam LaRoche and Ian Desmond drew back-to-back walks in the first two at bats of the Nats' second. Bryce Harper K'd looking at a 97 mph 1-2 fastball outside (and low). The third walk of the inning, to Asdrubal Cabrera, loaded the bases with one down and Jose Lobaton due up. A wild pitch allowed LaRoche to score from third, but Lobaton's grounder toward short hit Cabrera in the foot as he headed toward third so no run scored on the "single" and Gio Gonzalez popped to center to end a 33-pitch frame that left Wheeler at 46 total after two.
Denard Span and Anthony Rendon hit back-to-back singles off Wheeler in the home-half of the third, but Jayson Werth grounded into a 6-4-3 DP on a 96 mph 3-1 fastball and after a walk to Adam LaRoche, Ian Desmond grounded back to the mound to end a 19-pitch inning. 65 total for Wheeler after three.
Bryce Harper, Asdrubal Cabrera and Jose Lobaton went down in order in a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth that left Wheeler at 78 pitches overall.
Anthony Rendon took a 2-2 curve that was called strike three by home plate ump Paul Nauert, ending a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth for Wheeler, who was up to 88 pitches.
Jayson Werth doubled to the left-center gap to start the Nats' sixth, but was gunned down at home by Mets' left fielder Eric Campbell when he tried to score from second on a single through the left side by Adam LaRoche. The play was reviewed, but the call was upheld. Two outs later, LaRoche was stranded at first. Nine-pitch inning for Wheeler. 97 pitches overall after six.
Zack Wheeler gave up a leadoff single by Asdrubal Cabrera on his 104th pitch of the night. Jose Lobaton singled on a line drive to center to put two runners on in front of pinch hitter Steven Souza, Jr., who grounded into a 6-4-3 DP. Cabrera took third. Souza was done for the night...
• Zack Wheeler's Line: 6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 Ks, 109 P, 66 S, 8/3 GO/FO.
2. #Spanning: In addition to extending his league-leading on-base streak to 30 straight games with his 30th double of the year last night, 30-year-old outfielder Denard Span made some impressive plays on defense, starting a double play on a line drive to center with a runner on second and making a diving play later in the game on a liner to center that looked like a sure hit off the bat.
Matt Williams talked after the loss to the Baltimore Orioles about how important Span is for the Nationals.
"He's just continued to play really well," Williams said. "He's playing every day. He's hitting, he's getting on base, he's stealing bases, he's playing great defense as usual, and he's a really good player. And we're happy to have him on our club, that's for sure."
In his second at bat of the game tonight, Span reached on an infield single off Zack Wheeler that Mets' second baseman Daniel Murphy got to but pocketed. With his first hit of the night, Span extended his on-base streak to 31 straight games.
1. The Wrap-Up: Drew Storen took over for Gio Gonzalez with two on and no one out in the seventh. Zack Wheeler bunted both runners over/gave up an out. Juan Lagares took a fastball on the arm and took his base. Daniel Murphy grounded to second in the next at bat and it got by Asdrubal Cabrera. Two runs score, 4-1 Mets. Lucas Duda drove another run in with a single and the Mets led 5-1 after six and a half.
Zack Wheeler got a double play grounder out of Steven Souza, Jr. on the Mets' right-hander's final pitch of the night. Josh Edgin came on to face Denard Span with a runner on third and two out and popped to short center where Juan Lagares made a Span-ish diving catch.
Blake Treinen came out for the eighth, hit Travis d'Arnaud and gave up a single by Chris Young in the first two at bats. One out later, Kirk Nieuwenhuis hit an RBI single back to the mound and off Treinen's shoulder. 6-1 Mets after seven and a half when Juan Lagares lined out to right and Werth nailed him at home. 9-2 DP.
Jeurys Familia gave up a two-out double by Adam LaRoche, but nothing else in a scoreless eighth.
Treinen came back out for the ninth and gave up a leadoff single by Daniel Cabrera, but David Wright grounded into a 5-4-3 DP for the first two outs of the inning. Lucas Duda K'd looking to end the top of the inning.
Dana Eveland came on to end it and retired the Nationals in order.
Nationals now 60-51