5. Gonzalez vs the Giants: After throwing 105 pitches in 4 ⅔ innings in which he gave up four hits, four walks and a run in a 2-1 loss to the New York Mets in Citi Field and 95 pitches in five innings of work in an 11-4 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks in D.C. in his previous two outings before his last start, Gio Gonzalez threw a total of 117 in eight scoreless against the Los Angeles Dodgers earlier this week in the last game the Washington Nationals won before their current four-game losing streak.
Nats' skipper Matt Williams talked after Gonzalez earned his ninth win in 21 starts, about the left-hander's efficient night in L.A. in the Nationals' 8-3 win.
"I think he got some early outs, early in the game, and was in the strike zone," Williams said, "and when he can do that, then he can manage the pitch count innings one-through-five and get deeper in a game for us."
Gonzalez had at least one runner reach base in seven of his eight innings on the mound, but stranded them all in an impressive appearance in Chavez Ravine.
"I just thought he was in command the whole night," Williams added. "The key for him is pitch count early, keeping it down as we spoke about today, and that allowed him to get through eight. Pitched really well."
With the win, Gonzalez improved to (9-4) with a 3.50 ERA, a 3.02 FIP, 45 walks (3.28 BB/9) and 111 Ks (8.10 K/9) in 123 ⅓ innings, over which he's held opposing hitters to a combined .270/.339/.383 line.
Tonight he was facing the San Francisco Giants for the second time this season after holding them to a run on five hits in a seven innings back on July 3rd in the nation's capital.
"Ball was coming out great," Williams said of Gonzalez's win that night. "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."
This time out, in AT&T Park, the Nationals' lefty took the mound with a 1-0 lead and retired the Giants in order in a quick, 18-pitch bottom of the first.
With the score 2-0 after one and a half, Gonzalez set the Giants down in an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 second, that left him at 29 pitches.
Kelby Tomlinson tripled to center on a 1-0 fastball in the first at bat of the home third and Gonzalez walked Giants' catcher Hector Sanchez to put two on in front of the opposing pitcher. Jake Peavy worked the count full trying to bunt/give up an out, and walked to load the bases with no one out. Gregor Blanco got the Giants on the board in the next at bat with a line drive single to center, 2-1. Matt Duffy lined a double to left and cleared the bases for a 4-2 lead. Brandon Belt singled to center to bring Duffy in and make it 5-2 on Gonzalez's 25th pitch of the frame. Two outs later, Brandon Crawford drove belt in with an RBI single, 6-2. That was it for Gonzalez.
• Gio Gonzalez's Line: 2.2 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 65 P, 34 S, 4/2 GO/FO.
4. Peavy vs the Nats: Giants' right-hander Jake Peavy returned from a DL stint for a back strain to face the Nationals back on July 3rd in Nationals Park.
The veteran starter went 6 ⅓ innings that night, giving up three hits, four walks and two runs in a 2-1 loss in which he threw 94 pitches.
"He knows how to pitch," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the outing. "He changed speeds effectively.
"The fastball, he was able to reach back for 92 tonight when he wanted to, but he pitched about 88-89 with a really good changeup, threw some backdoor sliders, cutters if you will, for some punchouts too. He knows how to pitch, been around a long time and he understands it."
In six starts since they last faced him, Peavy was (2-2) with the Giants 4-2 in his starts, over which the righty put up a 2.72 ERA with a .241/.271/.353 line against in 36 ⅓ IP before tonight.
He took the mound in AT&T Park (2-5) on the year with a 3.75 ERA, 3.68 FIP, 13 walks (2.32 BB/9) and 39 Ks (6.97 K/9) in 50 ⅓ innings pitched this season, over which opposing hitters had a combined .245/.300/.378 line.
Bryce Harper walked with two down in the top of the first tonight, and scored on a fly to right by Yunel Escobar in the next at bat when Hunter Pence had the line drive soar right over his head for an RBI "double" that made it 1-0. 20-pitch frame.
Ian Desmond came out swinging in the second, taking a first-pitch cutter to deep left field for a solo home run in the first at bat. 2-0 Nats. Peavy stranded two runners at the end of a 14-pitch inning that left him at 34 total after two.
Clint Robinson walked with two down in the third on a 3-2 slider low in the zone that Peavy wanted. Ian Desmond lined to left in the next at bat where Brandon Belt had it go off his glove. E:7. Robinson took third on the liner, but Jayson Werth popped out to foul territory off first to end a 14-pitch frame that left the Giants' starter at 48 pitches.
Given a 6-2 lead to work with, Peavy retired the Nationals in order in an eight-pitch fourth. 56 pitches.
Bryce Harper lined a one-out single to right in the Nationals' fifth, but he was doubled up on a grounder to short off Yunel Escobar's bat. 6-4-3. Nine-pitch frame. 65 total.
Ian Desmond singled to right with one down in the Nats' half of the sixth and Jayson Werth walked to put two on in front of Jose Lobaton, who got up 3-1 and hit a two-run double to center over Gregor Blanco's head. 9-4 Giants.
Ryan Zimmerman got a pinch hit opportunity in the next AB, as Giants' reliever George Kontos started warming, and grounded out to short. Michael Taylor stepped in next and hit a first-pitch slider to left-center for an RBI triple. 9-5.
That was it for Peavy...
• Jake Peavy's Line: 5.2 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 84 P, 49 S, 6/3 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: With last night's win, the Giants improved to 11-2 in their last 13 games in AT&T Park and 33-24 overall at home this season.
• A win tonight would give the Giants three straight for the first time since 2009-10.
• Nats' starter Gio Gonzalez took the mound today (2-0) in his last five starts against the Giants, going back to his last loss to San Francisco in 2010.
• The Giants' seven extra-base hits last night gave them 49 in the month of August, the second-most extra base hits over that stretch, behind only the New York Mets (52).
• Bryce Harper's 411 foot home run last night with his 30th of the season, making him the 6th National to hit 30 in a single season and the first to do it since Adam LaRoche in 2012.
• For tonight's Fun with Arbitrary End Points segment: Clint Robinson, who got the start at first tonight, has put up a .285/.376/.458 line over his last 50 games.
• Before taking the mound tonight, Gonzalez was (5-0) in his last eight starts with a 1.48 ERA over that stretch.
2. Turning Point(s): Bryce Harper took his 84th walk of the season with two down in the top of the first inning tonight, and he was on the move when Yunel Escobar lined to right field in the next at bat, so he scored easily when Hunter Pence misread/lost the ball and had it soar over his head for an RBI double that gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead early in the third of four in AT&T Park.
• Ian Desmond was first-pitch swinging in the Nationals' second, and he absolutely crushed a cutter from Peavy, sending HR no. 15 of 2015 to deep left field (477 ft) and over the bleachers to make it 2-0 early in AT&T.
Here's Bryce Harper's reaction to seeing his teammate Ian Desmond's HR. It nearly hit the coke bottle in LF. 2-0 WSH pic.twitter.com/k3gCAjmzUX— SF Giants on CSN (@CSNGiants) August 16, 2015
• The Giants loaded the bases with no one out in the bottom of the third as Gio Gonzalez suddenly lost the strike zone, and Gregor Blanco cut the Nationals' lead in half with an RBI single to center on a first-pitch fastball. Matt Duffy followed with a base-clearing double that made ti 4-2 San Francisco. Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford added RBI singles as well, knocking Gonzalez out after 65 pitches with the score 6-2.
1. The Wrap-Up: Tanner Roark came on to record the final out of the Giants' third, but the Giants were ahead, 6-2.
• The Giants went down in order in the bottom of the fourth. Roark came back out in the fifth and walked Brandon Belt with one down before giving up a double to center by Buster Posey that made it 7-2 Giants. Roark walked Brandon Crawford with two down and gave up a two-run double to left by Kelby Tomlinson, 9-2.
George Kontos came on for Peavy with a runner on third and two out in the sixth after the Nationals rallied for three runs. 9-5. Anthony Rendon's fly to left ended the inning. 9-5 Giants.
Felipe Rivero gave up a one-out single to center by Gregor Blanco, who promptly stole second in the next at bat and scored on a two-out double to left by Brandon Belt. 10-5 Giants.
Kontos retired the Nationals in order in the top of the seventh. And Bryce Harper fouled a slider inside off his back ankle during the inning and left the game afterward.
Justin Maxwell singled with two down in the Giants' half of the seventh, but Rivero (who made a ridiculous play while covering first) stranded him on the base paths.
Yusmeiro Petit retired the Nationals in order in the eighth. Still 10-5.
Drew Storen gave up a one-out single to center by Gregor Blanco and an RBI double by Matt Duffy, 11-5 Giants. Buster Posey drove Duffy in with an RBI single, 12-5.
Danny Espinosa hit his first career pinch hit home run in the top of the ninth to make it 12-6. That's how it ended.
Nationals now 58-58