5. Gio Gonzalez in Citi Field: Gio Gonzalez was solid through three innings last time out, giving up just two singles, but a botched rundown in the fourth inning of the Washington Nationals' game against the Miami Marlins set the Fish up with a bases-loaded, two-out opportunity they cashed in when Adeiny Hechavarria cleared the bases with a triple to center field in Marlins Park.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams said the extra out the Marlins were given really hurt.
"The derailing factor was giving them the extra one," he told reporters after what ended up a 6-2 loss.
"But, I thought [Gonzalez] was fine up until that point. One swing of the bat is three runs and it's hard to come back from that. Then they added a couple. So it's difficult when those things happen, but we have to continue to play nine innings and make sure that we're battling the whole way. Today it didn't happen for us."
Gonzalez wasn't interested in pinning the blame on catcher Wilson Ramos, who made an ill-advised attempt to tag Giancarlo Stanton out himself in the aforementioned rundown, but didn't get him, and instead Gonzalez said that he needed to make a better pitch to the Marlins' shortstop and pound the strike zone more in general.
"What affected me was falling behind on hitters," he said. "Up in the plate. Wasn't attacking the strike zone as much. Realistically, it happens in baseball. As a starting pitcher you have to go out there and minimize the damage, and obviously I didn't do that.
"I have to make a better pitch to Hechavarria, even knowing the situation, you have to, as a starting pitcher you have to make the adjustment. Again, that's all me, that was all my mistake. Left the pitch out over the plate and he executed a pitch where he's supposed to."
Gonzalez gave up six runs on 10 hits in the loss in Miami, which left him (1-2) on the year with a 5.01 ERA, a 3.38 FIP, 11 walks (4.24 BB/9) and 22 Ks (8.49 K/9) in four starts and 23 ⅓ IP so far this season.
Gonzalez was in Flushing, Queens, NY's Citi Field this evening, for his 14th career start against the New York Mets, against whom he was (7-4) with a 3.13 ERA, 29 walks (3.36 BB/9), 78 Ks (9.04 K/9) and a .192/.269/.299 line against in 77 ⅔ before taking the mound.
In the Mets' home, Gonzalez was (5-1) with a 1.88 ERA, 18 walks (3.08 BB/9), 51 Ks (8.71 K/9) and a .148/.227/.224 line in 52 ⅔ IP heading into his fifth start of the season, which began with a one-out single to center by Juan Lagares, who tried to score on a double to left by Lucas Duda in the next at bat only to get thrown out on a relay from Jayson Werth to Ian Desmond and Wilson Ramos at home. Two down. Gonzalez walked Michael Cuddyer in the next at bat, and spiked a fastball to Daniel Murphy that moved both runners into scoring position, but Daniel Murphy grounded out to first to end a 15-pitch frame.
Ruben Tejada hit a bloop single to right with one down in the Mets' second, but he was stranded at first as Gonzalez struck out the side in a 14-pitch frame that left him at 29 total after two. Lucas Duda pushed Jayson Werth back to the track, but his two-out fly died in front of the wall, bringing a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 third to a close. 41 total for Gonzalez.
Michael Cuddyer K'd swinging through a 93 mph 0-2 fastball for the first out of the Mets' fourth and Gonzalez's fourth K. Daniel Murphy split the gap with a one-out single to right-center field with one down. A 94 mph 1-2 fastball got Dilson Herrera swinging for out no.2 and K no.5. Ruben Tejada took an 0-2 fastball for a called strike three, out no.3 and Gonzalez's sixth K. 15-pitch frame, 56 total after four. 6 Ks.
Gio Gonzalez walked Anthony Recker in the first at bat of the Mets' fifth. Jon Niese tried to give up an out, but ended up striking out on a 1-2 curve. 7 Ks. John Mayberry, Jr. took a 2-2 change for a called strike three, out no.2 and K no.8. Juan Lagares hit a single to center with two down that sent Recker around to third, and a wide throw in from Michael Taylor allowed Lagares to take an extra base. Lucas Duda came up with two on and two runners in scoring position and grounded out to second to strand two and end a 20-pitch frame that left Gonzalez at 76 overall after five.
Michael Cuddyer sent a dribbler in front of the plate and stopped running to first to argue it was foul, allowing Wilson Ramos to tag him. Daniel Murphy battled for eleven pitches before grounding out to first. Dilson Herrera hit a dribbler up the middle that got by Danny Espinosa's barehand attempt, but Ian Desmond was alertly backing Espinosa up and he recovered it in time to get Herrera trying for second. 21-pitch frame. 97 total.
Ruben Tejada took a high 3-2 fastball for a called strike three and Gonzalez's 9th K. Anthony Recker sent a fly to Jayson Werth in left for out no.2. Eric Campbell grounded back toward the mound and Gonzalez dove on it and made the throw to first to end a 14-pitch frame at 111 pitches overall.
• Gio Gonzalez's Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 Ks, 111 P, 74 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
4. Niese in NY: Mets' left-hander Jonathon Niese had a streak of seven-straight starts in which he allowed two runs or less to score snapped last time out on the mound in an outing against the New York Yankees.
NY's AL team pushed six runs, four earned, across on eight hits in 5 IP against Niese in what ended up a 6-4 win in Yankee Stadium.
Niese took his first loss in four 2015 starts in that start, which left him with a (2-1) record, a 2.74 ERA, a 4.95 FIP, nine walks (3.52 BB/9) and 14 Ks (5.48 K/9) in 23 IP so far this season.
Tonight, however, he was back in Citi Field where the 28-year-old southpaw was (2-0) in two starts this season, with a 1.38 ERA and a .250/.339/.404 line against, and he was facing a Washington Nationals team he was (3-3) against in his career -- after starting out (3-0) -- with a 3.41 ERA, 12 walks (1.78 BB/9), 54 Ks (8.01 K/9) and a .280/.313/.415 line against in 10 starts and 60 ⅔ IP.
Niese's fifth start of the year began with a scoreless first in which he worked around a two-out single by Jayson Werth and a walk to Bryce Harper in a 26-pitch frame.
Ian Desmond singled with one out in the Nats' second and took second base on a single to left by Danny Espinosa in the next at bat. Gio Gonzalez bunted both runners over/gave up an out, and Michael Taylor hit a sharp grounder to third base that bounced off a diving Daniel Murphy's glove for an RBI single and a 1-0 lead. Yunel Escobar K'd swinging over an 0-2 curve to end a 17-pitch frame that left Niese at 43 total after two.
Ryan Zimmerman and Wilson Ramos hit back-to-back singles to center with two down in the third, but Ian Desmond K'd swinging at an 0-2 curve. 14-pitch frame, 57 total after three. Danny Espinosa singled to start the Nats' fourth, but he was stranded at second three outs later and Niese was through four on 64 pitches after a seven-pitch frame.
The Nats went down in order in a quick, 14-pitch, 1-2-3 fifth that left Niese at 78 pitches.
Wilson Ramos sent a 1-2 curve to left for a line drive single in the first at bat of the sixth. Ian Desmond's second hit of the night was another single to center that put two on with no one out. Danny Espinosa stepped in next and hit a sharp grounder to third that Daniel Murphy backhanded. Murphy threw to second for what looked like a force, but the umpire ruled that Dilson Herrera came off the bag as Desmond slid in. Mets' skipper Terry Collins challenged the call, and it was overturned. One down. Gio Gonzalez bunted Espinosa over to second/gave up an out. Michael Taylor got another RBI opportunity and sent a one-hop liner to short that Ruben Tejada handled. 16-pitch frame, 94 pitches overall.
Niese retired the Nationals in order in a 13-pitch seventh that left him at 107 overall on the night.
• Jon Niese's Line: 7.0 IP, 9 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks, 107 P, 73 S, 13/1 GO/FO.
3. Desi vs Niese: Ian Desmond's 0 for 3 last night in Citi Field left him 0 for his last 29, a hitless stretch that's taken him from a .294/.342/.441 line after a 1 for 4 game against the Marlins last Friday to a .211/279/.316 line after 24 games and 104 plate appearances this season.
A career .270/.321/.443 hitter against lefties, the prospect of facing a left-hander tonight in New York would, you'd think, be a welcome matchup for the Nationals' hard-hitting shortstop, except for the fact that he was just 5 for 24 (.240/.292/.532) vs Niese thus far in their respective careers, and just 1 for 17 (.059/.158/.235) vs left-handers overall so far this season.
Would Desmond snap his 0-for-29 streak tonight in New York? His first opportunity came in the top of the second and... he did it, taking an 0-1 change up the middle for a ground ball single that bounced off the second base bag.
Desmond K'd swinging over an 0-2 curve the second time up, stranding two runners. WIth Wilson Ramos on first with no one out in the sixth, Desmond sent a single back up the middle between two diving middle infielders. 2 for 3.
Desmond lined out to right in his final at bat, to end the night 2 for 4.
2. Turning Point(s): After the Nationals stranded two runners in the top of the first, the Mets threatened to take an early lead in the bottom of the inning. Juan Lagares singled with one out and Lucas Duda followed with a line drive double to left, but Jayson Werth recovered it quickly and threw a strike to the relay man, Ian Desmond, who made a strong throw home to Wilson Ramos that arrived at the plate well ahead of Lagares. "You're OUT!!"
After the strong throw home, Desmond picked up a bat and his first hit in 30 at bats, a single to center, was followed by a line drive single to left by Danny Espinosa that put two runners on in the top of the second. Gio Gonzalez bunted both runners into scoring position in front of Michael Taylor, and the 24-year-old infielder hit a sharp grounder to third that bounced off a diving Daniel Murphy's glove for an RBI infield single that made it 1-0 Nats.
1. The Wrap-Up: Carlos Torres took over for the Mets in the eighth and retired the Nationals in order.
Aaron Barrett came on in the Mets' half of the eighth. Curtis Granderson popped out behind home. A 3-2 slider in the dirt got Juan Lagares chasing. Matt Grace came on to face Lucas Duda and got a groundout to second to end a 1-2-3 frame.
Torres came back out for a scoreless top of the ninth.
Drew Storen came out for the Mets' ninth. Michael Cuddyer grounded out to first. ONE! Daniel Murphy popped out behind home. Dilson Herrera got to a 2-2 count and popped out to left. Ballgame.
Nationals now 11-14