5. Gio vs the D-Backs: Going in to tonight's outing, Gio Gonzalez had a streak of six straight starts, and eight of his last nine in which he gave up two earned runs or loss.
Over that stretch, which went back to June 4th, Gonzalez put up a 2.63 ERA and a .242/.323/.316 line against, with 22 walks (3.86 BB/9) and 42 Ks (7.36 K/9) in 51 ⅓ innings pitched.
His last two outings have been relatively brief, however, with Gonzalez out after 74 pitches in five innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 9-3 Nats' win and 105 pitches in 4 ⅔ inning against the New York Mets in Citi Field this past weekend in a 2-1 loss in which he received no decision.
"He made some pitches when he had to," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after Gonzalez gave up four hits and one earned run against the Mets, "but extended pitch counts just got him.
"Upwards of 100, didn't get through five, so it's a one-run game there, we ended up tying it late, but he just couldn't go any further."
"'I just put my team in a tough situation,'" Gonzalez told reporters, including MASN's Chris Johnson.
"'I gotta go deeper in the game. I kept falling behind on every hitter. No excuses. I should've done a better job on the mound.'"
Gonzalez was facing the Arizona Diamondbacks for the second time this season tonight, after giving up nine hits and five earned runs in five innings in Chase Field in mid-May over which he threw 84 pitches.
"Generally when he's not commanding," Williams said after the Nationals rallied for a 9-6 win in that outing, "pitch count gets up and the ball sails off the plate a little bit. That was a little bit of the case today."
Gonzalez retired the first two batters he faced tonight in the nation's capital, but Diamondbacks' first baseman Paul Goldschmidt reached on an infield single that a sliding Anthony Rendon couldn't corral. Goldschmidt stole his 18th base in the next at bat, but was stranded at second when D-Backs' catcher Welington Castillo K'd looking at a 2-2 bender to end a 15-pitch first by the Nats' lefty.
Given a 2-0 lead to work with, Gonzalez walked the first batter he faced in the D-Backs' second, putting Aaron Hill on, and Yasmany Tomas singled to left field in the next at bat. Gonzalez got another called strike three with a 2-2 curve to Chris Owings. Nick Ahmed went down swinging at a 1-2 heater inside. Rubby De La Rosa tried to help his own cause, but went down swinging at a 1-2 fastball. 25-pitch second. 40 total after two.
Ender Inciarte beat out a slow roller to short for an infield single in the first at bat of the third, but he was forced out at second on a grounder to short by A.J. Pollock, who beat the 4-3 throw to first.
Paul Goldschmidt sent a low liner through short for a one-out single that moved Pollock into scoring position. A pop to short-center by Welington Castillo fell in for a hit, loading the bases with one down.
Aaron Hill stepped in next, and hit a sac fly to center to cut the Nationals' lead in half. 2-1. Yasmany Tomas went down swinging at a curve in the dirt, however, bringing a long 17-pitch third to a close. 57 pitches total.
A seven-pitch, 1-2-3 fourth left Gonzalez at 64 pitches. A.J. Pollock lined a 2-1 change to left, under Yunel Escobar's glove at third, for a one-out single in the fifth. Paul Goldschmidt was 3 for 3 tonight after he lined a single by Anthony Rendon's outstretched glove at second. The D-Backs pulled off a double steal with Welington Castillo at the plate, but the catcher took a 95 mph 2-2 fastball for a called strike three and Aaron Hill K'd looking at a fastball inside to end a 29-pitch fifth. 93 total.
A single to center by Yasmany Tomas on Gonzalez's 95th pitch ended the lefty's outing.
• Gio Gonzalez's Line: 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 Ks, 95 P, 67 S, 5/0 GO/FO.
4. Rubby as in Ruby: Arizona Diamondbacks' righty Rubby (RUE-bee) De La Rosa• beat the Washington Nationals when he faced them in Chase Field in May, giving up eight hits, two walks and four earned runs in seven innings of work in a 14-6 win in which he struck out four and threw 91 pitches.
Since the Nats last saw the one-time Dodgers' prospect who was traded from Los Angeles to Boston in 2012 and acquire by the D-Backs in the deal that sent Wade Miley to the Red Sox last winter, De La Rosa has gone (4-3) in fourteen starts with a 4.64 ERA and a .270/.323/.452 line against over 87 ⅓ innings pitched.
In 21 starts overall this season, the right-hander is (8-5) with a 4.59 ERA, a 4.68 FIP, 37 walks (2.54 BB/9) and 110 Ks (7.54 K/9) in 131 ⅓ innings pitched, over which he's held opposing hitters to a combined .259/.314/.451 line.
Last time out before tonight's start, De La Rosa, who'd allowed just one run in fifteen innings pitched in his previous two starts, gave up eight hits and four runs in six innings of a 6-4 win over the Houston Astros in which he received no decision.
De La Rosa's second start of the year against the Nationals began with a line drive double to center by Yunel Escobar on a first-pitch fastball up in the zone.
A four-pitch walk to Anthony Rendon put two on with no one out in front of Nationals' slugger Bryce Harper, who worked the count full and took the second straight walk, loading the bases with no one out.
Ryan Zimmerman hit a sac fly to right to bring Escobar in for a 1-0 lead, allowing Rendon to take third on the throw home, and Rendon scored on a fly to right by Jayson Werth to make it 2-0. 29-pitch first for De La Rosa.
The Nationals went down in order in a 16-pitch second that left De La Rosa at 45 pitches.
With the score 2-1 Nationals after two and a half, Anthony Rendon singled to right with one down in the Nationals' third, but he was forced out at second one out later to end a 23-pitch frame that left De La Rosa at 68 pitches.
A 1-2-3 fourth ended with Aaron Hill diving toward the line to rob Jose Lobaton of a potential extra base hit. 15-pitch frame, 83 pitches. De La Rosa retired the first two batters in the fifth before walking Yunel Escobar, but the runner was stranded when Anthony Rendon grounded out to third on the right-hander's 101st pitch.
• Rubby De La Rosa's Line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 Ks, 101 P, 64 S, 5/6 GO/FO.
3. Random Game Notes: The Nationals' win last night snapped a four-game losing streak and left them 29-20 in D.C. this season, with their .592 home winning percentage the NL's fifth best.
• With his scoreless outing last night, Drew Storen is now up to 12 ⅓ scoreless innings since last allowed a run on June 24th.
• Storen's also thrown 32 of 35 pitches for strikes in four outings since he was moved into a set-up role.
• Bryce Harper heads into the 3rd game of 4 with the D-Backs leading the majors in slugging percentage (.667) and OPS (1.121), and he's the NL leader in home runs with 29 and runs scored with 70. He's also second in the majors in OBP (.455).
• Michael Taylor's .403 AVG with runners in scoring position is the second-best in the majors, behind only Giants' catcher Buster Posey's .408 AVG.
• Max Scherzer recorded his 1,500th K in last night's game, striking out Paul Goldschmidt in the 5th inning. Here's what he had to say about reaching that milestone:
"That's a really cool milestone. To get it within seven years of my career, it shows performance and durability. We keep seeing guys go down with shoulder injuries, elbow injuries, and I've been fortunate enough to stay away from that and be durable and go out there and make 30-plus a season and I feel like that's the reason that I'm able to get to that milestone at this point in time, so it is a good feeling to reach that milestone."
• Gio Gonzalez took the mound tonight (2-0) in four career starts against the D-Backs with a 2.84 ERA.
2. Turning Point(s): D-Backs' right-hander Rubby De La Rosa gave up a leadoff double and two walks to the first three batters he faced in tonight's game, and Ryan Zimmerman stepped up for the first time with the bases loaded and hit a sac fly to right to bring in the game's first run. Another sac fly by Jayson Werth made it 2-0 after one.
• The Diamonbacks loaded the bases with one out in the third, and got a sac fly to center to cut the Nationals' lead in half, 2-1, but Gio Gonzalez struck Yasmany Tomas out to strand two runners at the end of a 17-pitch frame.
• Gio Gonzalez, after batting in the bottom of the fifth (at 93 pitches), came back out for the sixth and was lifted after a leadoff single by Yasmany Tomas. Aaron Barrett came on and gave up a single to center by Chris Owings, and then made a throwing error on a bunt by Nick Ahmed that allowed two runs to score. Ahmed scored on a broken-bat hit to left by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and the D-Backs took a 4-2 lead in the sixth. 5-2 before the inning was over.
1. The Wrap-Up: Aaron Barrett took over for Gio Gonzalez with a runner on and no one out in the sixth. Chris Owings lined a 2-1 slider to center for the second straight hit of the inning. Nick Ahmed bunted one toward the third base side and Barrett threw it away, allowing two runs to score. Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a broken-bat single to left in the next at bat to bring Ahmed in and make it 4-2 D-Backs. Tanner Roark came on for Barrett and gave up a base-loading walk to Welington Castillo and one out later, a bases-loaded walk to Aaron Hill that forced in a run. 5-2 D-Backs.
David Hernandez gave up an infield single by Bryce Harper on a hard-hit grounder to short, but stranded the runner three outs later. Still 5-2 D-Backs.
Roark came back out for the seventh and set the Diamondbacks down in order. Addison Reed came on for Arizona in the bottom of the frame and gave up an infield single by Michael Taylor with one down. Clint Robinson grounded into a force at second, but took third on a single to right by Yunel Escobar. Anthony Rendon stepped in next as the potential tying run, but went down swinging.
Matt Thornton gave up a leadoff triple to right by Ender Inciarte when Jayson Werth struggled to collect the ball in the left field corner. One out later, Paul Goldschmidt walked and both runners scored on a three-run bomb to left-center by Welington Castillo that put the D-Backs up, 8-2.
Oliver Perez struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth. Felipe Rivero hit Chris Owings and gave up back-to-back one-out singles, as the D-Backs loaded the bases, and a balk on Rivero forced in a run. 9-2. An infield single by A.J. Pollock brought in run no.10. 10-2.
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Michael Taylor hit a two-run home run to left-center in the ninth to make it an 11-4 game.
D-Backs 11-4 final.
Nationals now 55-51