5. GIO in OPACY: In back-to-back wins in his last two turns in the rotation, Washington Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez allowed nine hits, two walks and one earned run in 14 innings pitched over which he's recorded 10 Ks and held opposing hitters to a combined .188/.220/.271 line.
After shutting the Pittsburgh Pirates out for seven innings, Gonzalez took on the San Francisco Giants, giving up just one run in seven innings of what ended up a 2-1 win in the nation's capital.
In between those starts, there was a washed out game against the Phillies in Citizens Bank Park in which Gonzalez threw just 18 pitches before the game was called after an inning and a half because of rain.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams was impressed with how the left-hander responded after the long layoff when he shut the Giants out.
"He was strong tonight," Williams said.
"Of course the heavy layoff, it was important for him to get his work in in-between, but he was really strong.
"Ball was coming out great. He was able to throw his changeups and curveballs for strikes and locate well with the fastball too. So he pitched really well for us."
The most impressive part of the outing? Gonzalez avoided issuing a walk for the first time in fifteen starts this season, though he didn't realize it until a reporter mentioned it after the game.
"I didn't even know I had no walks," Gonzalez said. "For me it comes with the territory. You're going to get a couple walks, you're going to get a couple people on base, but like I said, it was just finding [Jose Lobaton's] glove and trying to pound it."
Lobaton was behind the plate again tonight, working with Gonzalez in the series opener with the Baltimore Orioles.
Gonzalez took the mound with a (6-4) record on the year, a 4.16 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 33 walks (3.35 BB/9), 78 Ks (7.92 K/9) and a .274/.346/.398 line against in 88 ⅔ IP.
Manny Machado singled to start the Orioles' first, after battling Gonzalez for eight pitches, but two outs, and two Ks later, he was still standing at first when Matt Wieters grounded weakly to second to end a 21-pitch first.
Nolan Reimold singled on a one-out grounder back to the mound that bounced off Gonzalez's glove, but a swinging bunt by Jimmy Paredes and a grounder to third that allowed Yunel Escobar to tag Reimold ended a 12-pitch frame that left Gio at 33 pitches.
Gio Gonzalez issued a one-out walk to Manny Machado in the O's third, but one out later the Orioles' third baseman was caught trying to steal second for out no.3 of an 18-pitch third that left Gonzalez at 51 pitches.
One pitch into the fourth, the Nationals were down 1-0 after Adam Jones hit a first-pitch change that Gonzalez left up and out over the plate into the left field seats. No.12 for Jones. Matt Wieters sent a grounder back up the middle for the second straight hit and two outs later, Jimmy Paredes took the second walk of the game from Gonzalez. J.J. Hardy stepped in with two on and two out, and grounded out to second to end a 26-pitch frame. 77 total.
Given a 2-1 lead to work with, Gonzalez gave up a leadoff single by Jonathan Schoop in the Orioles' fifth, but one out later, Steve Pearce sent a grounder to third to start an inning-ending 5-4-3. 87 total.
Matt Wieters singled to left with one down in the O's sixth, but he was stranded at first two outs later when Nolan Reimold K'd looking to end a 13-pitch frame. 100 total.
Gonzalez came back out for the bottom of the seventh and issued a leadoff walk to Jimmy Paredes, so Matt Williams went to the pen...
• Gio Gonzalez's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 106 P, 67 S, 9/2 GO/FO.
4. Tea for the Tillman: Orioles' right-hander Chris Tillman took the mound tonight in the series opener in Oriole Park at Camden Yards on a personal six-start unbeaten streak over which he was (4-0) with Baltimore 5-1.
Over the course of the streak, Tillman put up a 4.94 ERA, nine walks (2.61 BB/9) and 19 Ks (5.52 K/9) in 31 innings pitched, with opposing hitters had a combined .285/.328/.447 line against him.
That stretch did, however, include a 1 ⅓-inning outing against the Toronto Blue Jays in which he gave up six hits and six earned runs in what ended up a 13-9 Orioles' win.
Last time out, in a July 4th start against the Chicago White Sox that saw him give up 10 hits and two earned runs in 4 ⅔ IP, he received no decision in a 103-pitch effort.
"He grinded his way through 4 ⅔," Orioles' manager Buck Showalter said after the start. "I think [his] stuff was good, just he had to work for every out. He kept us engaged in the game and gave us a chance really to get back in it."
In his seven-year major league career, Tillman faced the Nationals three times before tonight, putting up a 4.86 ERA in 16 ⅔ innings in which Washington's hitters put up a .284/.333/.567 line.
Tillman worked around a leadoff single by Yunel Escobar for a scoreless 18-pitch first that ended with back-to-back Ks from Bryce Harper (swinging) and Wilson Ramos (looking).
Ian Desmond walked with one down in the Nats' second, but the Orioles turned an improbable DP on a slow roller to short (where Manny Machado was in the shift) off Jose Lobaton's bat to end a quick, 15-pitch second that left Tillman at 33 total after two.
The Nationals went down in order in a 15-pitch third. 48 total. A 13-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth left Tillman at 61 pitches.
Clint Robinson and Ian Desmond hit back-to-back singles to start the fifth with the second and third hits of the night off Tillman, but Jose Lobaton grounded into a 4-6-3 DP in the next AB, leaving it up to Tyler Moore, who doubled to right on a 3-1 fastball to bring Robinson in and tie things up at 1-1. Michael Taylor singled to left in the next at bat to bring Moore around and make it 2-1. Yunel Escobar connected for a hit-and-run single that sent Taylor around to third, but a backwards K from Danny Espinosa ended a 21-pitch frame that left Tillman at 82 total.
Bryce Harper, in the first at bat, and Clint Robinson, with one down, singled off of Tillman in the Nats' half of the sixth, but Robinson was forced out at second on an Ian Desmond grounder and Jose Lobaton K'd swinging to end a 25-pitch frame that left the Orioles' starter at 107 pitches.
• Chris Tillman's Line: 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 107 P, 71 S, 8/1 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: The Orioles took three of four games between the mid-Atlantic "rivals" in 2014. The Nats and O's play six games this season starting with tonight's match in OPACY. Baltimore starts the series with a 35-30 edge in the overall series between the two teams since 2005.
• The O's are 37-0 this seaso when leading after seven innings and 40-0 when leading after eight. Their 37-0 mark when leading after seven is the best in the majors according to the Orioles' pregame notes.
• Running on the Orioles' outfielders might be difficult. As a group, they started the three-game set with the Nationals with 25 outfield assists, the highest total in the majors.
• Baltimore is also fifth in the majors and fourth in the AL in HRs with 104 so far this season, lead by Chris Davis and Manny Machado, who have 19 each.
• The O's are also good with runners in scoring position, with a .297 AVG as a team, which is MLB's second-highest AVG with RISP.
• For more fun with arbitrary end points, the Naitonals are 12-5 since June 19th, the best record in the majors over that stretch, outscoring oppenents 68-37 in the last seventeen games.
• In those seventeen games, Nationals' pitchers have allowed just 18 walks, which is 20 fewer than the next team on the list, the Seattle Mariners, whose pitches have walked 38.
• Gio Gonzalez started the night with a streak of ten-straight innings in which he hasn't allowed a walk after getting through his first outing of the season without issuing a free pass last time out.
Timeless. pic.twitter.com/SXNwtnlpmR— MLB (@MLB) July 10, 2015
2. Turning Point(s): Gio Gonzalez was rolling through four (though his pitch count was climbing), but the first pitch of the fourth ended up deep in the left field seats as O's center fielder Adam Jones crushed a changeup that Gonzalez left up in the zone outside. The Nats' lefty ended up throwing 26 pitches in the fourth, leaving him at 77 total after just four innings of silly American League ball.
• The Nationals rallied to tie it with two down in the fifth, however, when Tyler Moore went the other way with a 3-1 fastball from Chris Tillman, driving Clint Robinson in (after Robinson's leadoff single) and Moore then scored on a single to left by Michael Taylor that put the Nats up 2-1 after four and a half in OPACY.
• A swinging bunt by pinch hitter Chris Parmalee off Casey Janssen put the tying run on first in the Orioles' half of the eighth and one out later, O's catcher Matt Wieters stepped in against Nats' lefty Matt Thornton and hit an RBI double to the right-center gap to tie things up at 2-2.
1. The Wrap-Up: Darren O'Day took over for the Orioles in the top of the seventh. Michael Taylor walked with one down and stole second with Yunel Escobar up, but the call was revered after Buck Showalter challenged it and Escobar K'd swinging to end the Nats' seventh.
Aaron Barrett, fresh off the Disabled List, got the call from Matt Williams with a runner on and no one out after Gio Gonzalez walked Jimmy Paredes to start the Orioles' seventh. A wild pitch to J.J. Hardy moved the tying run into scoring position at second, but Hardy K'd swinging over a 2-2 slider for out no.1. Jonathan Schoop K'd swinging for out no.2 on a slider in the dirt that Lobaton blocked. Manny Machado stepped in with two out and popped to short to end the threat.
Brad Brach gave up a two-out single by Wilson Ramos in the top of the eighth, but completed a scoreless frame.
Casey Janssen took over in the O's eighth and gave up a swinging bunt single by pinch hitter Chris Parmalee. Adam Jones stepped in as the go-ahead run, and lined out to third for the first out of the frame.
Matt Thornton came on to face Matt Wieters and gave up a game-tying double to right. 2-2. Thornton got the next two outs to keep it tied.
Zach Britton retired the Nationals in order in the top of the ninth.
Tanner Roark retired the first two batters in the ninth, then left a 2-2 slider up in the zone for Jonathan Schoop who hit a walk-off winner to left. 3-2 Orioles.
Nationals now 46-39