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Colorado Rockies take series opener in D.C., 5-1 over the Washington Nationals

Washington Nationals’ lefty Gio Gonzalez threw a ton of pitches (106 total) in just five innings on the mound in what ended up a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Washington Nationals Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Gio Gonzalez gave up five hits and three runs, two earned, and threw 106 pitches in just five innings of work on the mound in Nationals Park, in what ended up a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies in the series opener in Washington, D.C.

Homers: Colorado’s Rockies started their four-game set in Nationals Park leading the NL in home runs (17) after they finished the 2017 campaign ranked 10th overall in the National League with 192 dingers. Rockies’ hitters had a combined .232 AVG (ranked 12th in the NL) and a .282 BABIP (also 12th) when they arrived in Washington.

Gio Gonzalez faced the Rockies twice in D.C. in his career before tonight, going (2-0) in those outings, with a 2.25 ERA in 12 IP, over which he did not allowed a single home run.

DJ LeMahieu hit the 18th of the season for the Rockies, and his third, out to left field on the third pitch of the game from Gonzalez, however, putting the visiting team up early, 1-0.

It was 2-0 Colorado after Howie Kendrick misplayed a two-out pop to short right field by Ian Desmond, twisting in the wind, stumbling as he lost track of the ball, and tumbling as it fell to the outfield grass for what was ruled an RBI double.

LeMahieu doubled to drive in a run in his second at bat, bringing Gerardo Parra around from second base after Parra singled with one down, making it a 3-0 game after one and a half.

Chris Iannetta walked to start the Rockies’ fifth, and took third on a hard-hit grounder that bounced off Nationals’ third baseman Anthony Rendon’s glove and shot out into left field.

Both runners were stranded, however, as Gonzalez worked his way out of the jam in a 22-pitch fifth that left him at 106 pitches.

Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HR, 106 P, 69 S, 5/1 GO/FO.

LeMahieu connected for his third hit, and second home run, off Matt Grace with two down in the top of the sixth, hitting a first-pitch sinker out to left field for a two-run blast, 5-1 COL.

Rockies’ Arms: Colorado’s starters, as a group, arrived in Washington with the third-highest ERA (4.98), third-highest FIP (4.73), and the second-highest BAA (.268) among NL staffs, but they weren’t in Coors Field tonight, and the Nationals weren’t taking them lightly.

“Their pitching, they’re young, but their pitching is really good,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said before the series opener.

“I watched a lot of video this morning on the kid pitching today [Chad Bettis]. He’s got a good changeup, throws the ball well, but we’ve just got to worry about us, and compete every day. We can’t assume that we can win the game today, knowing that they’re pretty good, so we’ve just got to go out there and play our game and compete.”

Bettis took the mound with a 2.53 ERA, 4.92 FIP, six walks (5.06 BB/9), seven Ks (5.91 K/9), and a .231/.356/.421 line against after two starts and 10 23 IP early this season.

After tossing four scoreless on an efficient 44 pitches, Bettis gave up a solo shot by Howie Kendrick on an 86 mph 0-1 changeup that landed on the batter’s eye green deep in center field, making it 3-1 Rockies after five, but it was 5-1 Colorado after DJ LeMahieu hit HR No. 2 on the night in the top of the sixth.

Bettis finished up with a 23-pitch seventh that left him at 94 total on the night, with just the one earned run allowed in seven innings.

Chad Bettis’s Line: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 1 HR, 94 P, 58 S, 5/3 GO/FO.

Welcome Home, Ian: In 927 games for the Washington Nationals, 2004 Montreal Expos’ 3rd Round pick Ian Desmond put up a combined .264/.312/.424 line with a total of 185 doubles and 110 home runs in 3,793 plate appearances before he left via free agency and signed on with the Texas Rangers in February of 2016, and then in Colorado in December of 2016.

Before tonight’s game, Desmond hadn’t played against the Nationals in the nation’s capital, since the Rangers didn’t play the Nationals in 2016, and the 32-year-old was injured when the Rockies visited Washington last season.

Desmond arrived in D.C. 9 for 43 on the season, with a .209/.222/.442 line, a double, and three home runs in 12 games.

He received a nice ovation from the crowd in Nationals Park when he stepped to the plate for the first time as a member of an opposing team, and was gifted a double when Howie Kendrick misplayed a pop to short right field, twisting in the wind and letting it drop in the outfield grass for an RBI two-bagger that put the visiting Rockies up 2-0 in the first.

[ed. note - “Desmond’s ‘double’ was later changed, correctly IMO, to an ROE.”]

Desmond finished the night 1 for 4 against his former team.

Bullpen Action: Matt Grace took over on the mound for the Nationals in the top of the sixth, and gave up a one-out single and two-out, two-run home run by DJ LeMahieu, whose 2nd HR and third hit of the game made it 5-1 Rockies.

Trevor Gott came on in the seventh and retired the side in order in a quick, nine-pitch top of the inning, and came back out with a 1-2-3 eighth, completing two scoreless on 19 pitches.

Bryan Shaw worked around a two-out single by Michael A. Taylor for a scoreless bottom of the eighth.

Shawn Kelley gave up DJ LeMahieu’s second double, and fourth hit, of the night in the top of the ninth, which left the Rockies’ infielder 4 for 5 (2 2B, 2 HRs) with two runs scored and four driven in on the night.

Jake McGee got the ninth for the Rockies, and retired the side in a quick, 1-2-3 frame.


Final Score: 5-1 Rockies

Nationals now 6-7