The first regular season matchup since 2013 between the one-time Washington Senators and the current major league baseball team calling the nation's capital home ended up an 8-3 win for the Washington Nationals, who improved to 6-1 in D.C. early this season as Minnesota fell to 1-8 on the road so far in 2016.
Daniel Murphy got the Nationals on the board early, lining a two-out single to left on a 1-0 fastball from Twins' starter Kyle Gibson to bring Bryce Harper in from second for a 1-0 lead.
Danny Espinosa took a bases-loaded fastball to the left elbow to force in run No.2 of the first and Jose Lobaton hit a two-run single to left to make it 4-0 Nationals after one.
Through two starts before tonight's outing against the Minnesota Twins in Nationals Park, Gio Gonzalez had allowed one run in 13 innings pitched, over which the 30-year-old southpaw had put up a 0.69 ERA, a 2.89 FIP, three walks (2.08 BB/9), 12 Ks (8.31 K/9) and a .152/.208/.244 line against.
His curve was baffling Twins' hitters early as he collected five Ks in three scoreless to start the night, getting a little bit of help from Jayson Werth, who timed a fly to left by Byron Buxton perfectly and pulled it back into the field of play in the third:
Murphy (2 for 2) doubled in the Nationals' half of the third inning, moved to third base on a fly to right by Werth and scored on an RBI single by Danny Espinosa to make it 5-0 Nationals.
Jose Lobaton tripled, yes tripled, to center to bring Espinosa in, then scored on a sac fly by Gonzalez that made it 7-0.
Brian Dozier reached first on an E6, took second on a wild pitch and scored on an RBI single to left by Joe Mauer to get the Twins on the board in the fourth, 7-1, but in the bottom of the fifth, Werth hit a 2-2 slider from Twins' reliever Michael Tonkin into the left field bullpen, connecting for his third home run of the season, and making it 8-1 Nationals.
Two singles and a walk loaded the bases with no one out in the Twins' seventh, ending Gio Gonzalez's night.
Shawn Kelley inherited the bases-loaded jam, and struck out the first batter he faced before giving up a two-run single to right by Eduardo Nunez, 8-3 after six and a half.
Gio Gonzalez's Line: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 Ks, 90 P, 60 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
Felipe Rivero finished off the Twins' seventh and came back out for the eighth, but Miguel Sano took him deep to center on a 3-1 fastball that cleared the wall in straight center and made it 8-4 Nats.
Blake Treinen came out for the ninth and worked around a one-out walk to end it. Ballgame. 8-4 final.
Nationals now 12-4
- Since relocating to Washington in 2005, the Nationals have played series with the AL Central's Minnesota Twins three times, twice in Minneapolis.
- The Nationals' starting staff has a combined 2.31 ERA so far this season, behind only the Cubs' staff's 2.19 ERA, which is the best in the majors right now.
- Dusty Baker managed the San Francisco Giants in the first Interleague game back in 1997. He shared his thoughts on Interleague play before today's game when he was asked if he liked it:
"It's kind of late to like or dislike. I think we played the first interleague game, I think. When I was with the Giants, against Texas, I think. My teammate, I remember was over there, Johnny Oates was the manager of the Rangers. Yeah, I like it. It's not advantageous to either, in each other's league, that's the one thing. When they're it's a little bit to our advantage with the pitcher hitting and [their] big bat on the bench. When we got there, we don't generally carry a big booming bat like they do as the DH. But it does give me time to give some players a day of so to speak when we play in the American League. Probably [Ryan Zimmerman] and [Jayson] Werth and those guys, I expect them to hit and not play. And plus, I don't mind it because you get to see stadiums and towns that you don't really ordinarily go to just playing in the National League."
- Minnesota arrives in the nation's capital with a 1-7 record on the road so far this season. Washington starts the series 5-1 so far in Nationals Park.
- The Senators, who became the Twins when Calvin Griffith moved them to Minnesota in 1961, won the only World Series championship in D.C. baseball history in 1924.
- Defensively, the Nationals' four errors as the fewest in the majors so far this season, tied with the New York Mets. Danny Espinosa's E:6 in the 4th led to the Twins' first run of the game coming around.
- The Twins' three-game set in Nationals Park is their first visit to the nation's capital since 2013, when they dropped two of three to the Nats.
- Former Nationals Fernando Abad, Tommy Milone and Kurt Suzuki are currently on the Twins' roster.
- Twins' first baseman Joe Mauer has a .326 AVG in Interleague play in his career (233 for 714). Mauer has also reached base in all 16 of Minnesota's games so far this season. He ranks first in the AL in OBP (.472), and eighth in batting average .340).
- Bryce Harper started the series with MLB's highest OPS (1.255) and slugging percentage (.849) and he was tied for the major league lead with eight home runs.
- Harper was also 8 for 15 (.533 AVG) with four home runs, four doubles and six walks in plate appearances with runners on thus far this season.
- Brian Dozier started the three-game set in D.C. with a six-game hitting streak going.
- Daniel Murphy's 12-game hit streak ended in Thursday's series finale in Miami. He has, however, reached base in 28 of 59 plate appearances heading into the three-game set with the Twins. He lined an RBI single to left in his first at bat tonight to put the Nats up 1-0 early.
Nationals now 11-4