5. Gio vs the Pirates: Gio Gonzalez threw 79 pitches in just 3 ⅓ innings pitched last time out, giving up eight hits, three walks and five earned runs in what ended up a 6-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field.
The outing left the left-hander winless in four starts with a 5.57 ERA and a .291/.385/.380 line against in 21 innings over that stretch.
"He just couldn't throw it where he wanted to throw it," Nats' skipper Matt Williams told reporters after the loss.
"Got behind hitters, lost command of the strike zone, just didn't have any command at all today. We're going to have to work on that."
"Inconsistent in the strike zone," Gonzalez acknowleged, "Wasn't being aggressive and when I was falling behind and trying to back in the strike zone they were putting the ball in play. They found holes, they found hits, they found a way to get a run in and I was just trying to make the adjustment and trying to pound the strike zone and get better, but obviously it wasn't working. Walking too many guys, falling behind on everyone. I've got to do a better job."
Gonzalez fell to (4-4) with the loss, with a 4.82 ERA, 3.21 FIP, 31 walks (3.74 BB/9) and 68 Ks (8.20 K/9) in 74 ⅔ IP this season, over which opposing hitters have put up a combined .289/.365/.419 line against him.
At home in the nation's capital, however, where he took on Pittsburgh today, Gonzalez had performed much better so far this season with a 3.26 ERA (vs 5.89 on the road), a 3.10 FIP (vs 3.28) and a .263/.339/.354 line against (vs .306/.381/.460).
Washington Nationals (@Nationals) June 21, 2015
Gonzalez's start in the series finale with the Pirates, began with two quick outs before Andrew McCutchen lined an 0-1 fastball to left for a double. Jung Ho Kang went down swinging at a 2-2 fastball, however, bringing an end to a relatively-quick, 12-pitch first.
Given a ridiculous 9-0 run lead to work with, Gonzalez retired the Pirates in order in a quick, seven-pitch, 1-2-3 second that left him at 19 pitches total after two.
Gonzalez walked Jordy Mercer in the first at bat of the third, but retired the next three Pirates in order. 13-pitch third, 32 total after three. Another leadoff walk in the fourth, this time to Andrew McCutchen, was followed by a swinging K and a double play. 12-pitch frame, 44 total.
Gonzalez retired the Padres in order in a 10-pitch fifth that pushed him up to 54.
Pinch hitter Neil Walker singled to left to start the sixth and Josh Harrison sent a screamer up the middle to put two on in front of Starling Marte, who grounded into a force at second for out no.1. Andrew McCutchen came up with runners on the corners and one out and worked the count full before striking out on a diving curve. Jung Ho Kang got a two-out RBI opportunity, but grounded into a force at second for out no.3. 17-pitch frame, 71 total.
Jose Tabata, who was booed lustily each time up, lined a single to left with one down in the Pirates' seventh. Bryce Harper fought the sun and caught out no.2 on a fly to right by Corey Hart, and Jordy Mercer grounded into a force at second to end a 14-pitch frame that left Gonzalez at 85 total after seven.
• Gio Gonzalez's Line: 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 Ks, 85 P, 50 S, 13/2 GO/FO.
4. Morton vs Washington: Pirates' starter Charlie Morton missed the first month and a half of the 2015 campaign as he recovered from offseason hip surgery, but he's hit the ground running since returning to Pittsburgh's rotation and he entered the season finale with Washington in Nationals Park looking to extend a career-best five-game win streak.
In five starts before this afternoon's the 31-year-old sinker-balling right-hander was (5-0) with a 1.62 ERA, a 3.31 FIP, eight walks (2.16 BB/9) and 15 Ks (4.05 K/9) in 33 ⅓ IP, over which he held opposing hitters to a .207/.256/.264 line.
In six career starts vs the Nationals, Morton was (2-3) with a 4.70 ERA in 30 ⅔ after going (1-1) in two starts vs the Nats least season.
Morton, in addition to his five-start winning-streak, had a stretch of 14 ⅓ innings going when he took the mound in the bottom of the first in the nation's capital, which was the third-longest active streak in the National League, behind only the St. Louis Cardinals' Trevor Rosenthal and Washington Nationals' starter Max Scherzer.
That streak ended in the first when Bryce Harper hit a first-pitch fastball into the second deck in left field for a two-run home run, no.24 of 2015. 2-0 Nationals. Clint Robinson doubled to right in the next at bat and scored from second one out later on an RBI single by Jose Lobaton. 3-0. Lobaton took third on an opposite field single by Ian Desmond, and scored on a swinging bunt by Michael Taylor, 4-0. An errant pick attempt by Morton brought in run no.5 and Gio Gonzalez doubled to right to make it 6-0. A walk to Denard Span put two on in front of Yunel Escobar, who was 2 for 2 in the first after he hit a three-run blast to left. 9-0.
• Charlie Morton's Line: 0.2 IP, 8 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 HR, 43 P, 30 S.
3. Random Game Notes: The Nationals' wins in the first two games of the three-game set with the Pirates handed Pittsburgh their first loss in a road since since mid-May, and set Washington up with a chance for their third series sweep of 2015.
• The wins in the first two games also gave the Nationals six straight wins over the Pirates. Before that, Pittsburgh had won seven of 10 from Washington between May 2013 and May 2014.
• Denard Span started today's game with a seven-game hit streak, over which he was 11 for 29 (.379) with a .455 OBP over that stretch.
• Gio Gonzalez faced a tough challenge in the Pirates today, who had won seven straight games against left-handed starters since Cubs' lefty Jon Lester beat them in a May 16th start in Wrigley Field.
• The nine runs the Nationals scored tied the Nats' team record (2005-present) for the most runs scored in any inning.
• Bryce Harper was 1 for 2 in the first with his 24th HR of the season, with every home run at this point a new career high. After striking out in his second at bat, the 22-year-old slugger had a silly .348/.477/.741 line on the year.
• Matt Thornton's scoreless eighth gave the Nationals a new team record (2005-present) 24 scoreless innings.
2. Turning Point(s): Keep the line moving! Bryce Harper followed up on a Yunel Escobar single with a two-run blast, and Jose Lobaton, Michael Taylor, Ian Desmond and Gio Gonzalez all drove in runs with another scoring on an errant pick attempt by Pirates starter Charlie Morton as the Nationals jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the first. Yunel Escobar stepped in for the second time in the first with two runners on and hit a three-run blast out to left to make it 9-0 after one.
1. The Wrap-Up: Vance Worley recorded the final out of the first after taking over for Charlie Morton, then came back out for the second and worked around back-to-back one-out singles for a scoreless frame. Still 9-0 Nats.
Worley threw a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 third and came back with a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth that left him at 43 pitches after 3 ⅓ innings of relief work.
Jose Lobaton walked to start the Nationals' fifth, but was stranded at first three outs later.
Antonio Bastardo took the mound for the Pirates in the bottom of the sixth and retired the Nationals in order.
Matt Thornton got help on a diving catch by Michael Taylor for the first out of the eighth -- M.A.T.!!! -- and completed a scoreless nine-pitch frame that set a new Nationals record (2005-present) for consecutive scoreless innings.
Arquimedes Caminero gave up back-to-back, one-out singles by Michael Taylor and Tyler Moore, but stranded both runners. Still 9-0.
Felipe Rivero took the ball in the eighth for the Nationals and gave up a one-out double to left by Sean Rodriguez and a two-out, two-run home run by Corey Hart, 9-2.
That's how it ended.
Nationals now 37-33