Davey Martinez was not happy when a reporter mentioned Gio Gonzalez’s (10-1) record in 15 career starts in Citi Field before tonight’s game with the New York Mets.
“Why would you say that right now?” Martinez asked, feigning frustration.
Try as the report did, the jinx was not executed. Gonzalez tossed 5 1⁄3 innings, over which he gave up eight hits, two walks, and two runs, both earned, and he left the game in line for his 11th win in the Mets’ home.
Sammy Solis got the final two outs of the sixth inning, Ryan Madson tossed a scoreless seventh, as the Nationals added to their lead with runs in the seventh and eighth, and Brandon Kintzler and Sean Doolittle locked down the second straight curly-W, 5-2 final.
Gio in Citi Field: Nationals’ lefty Gio Gonzalez started the night (10-1) in 15 career starts in Citi Field, with a 1.69 ERA, 35 walks, 92 Ks, and a .167/.247/.259 line against in 95 2⁄3 IP in Flushing, Queens, NY.
Coming off his first loss of the season last time out, which saw the southpaw throw 106 pitches in five innings against the Colorado Rockies, Gonzalez took the mound tonight against the Mets and worked around three hits and two walks for four scoreless on 73 pitches.
#NationalsTREAsure pic.twitter.com/1nqUY4Rf3y— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) April 17, 2018
Zack Wheeler singled for the second time in the first at bat of the fifth inning, however, and took third on an Amed Rosario double before scoring on a sac fly to center off of Asdrubal Cabrera’s bat, 3-1.
Rosario scored on a groundout to first by Yoenis Cespedes, 3-2, beating a high throw in by Ryan Zimmerman after taking third base on a close, but ill-advised throw home by Michael A. Taylor on the Cabrera sac fly.
Juan Lagares and Mets’ catcher Tomas Nido hit back-to-back singles with one out in the top of the sixth, and Davey Martinez went to the bullpen for lefty Sammy Solis with runners on the corners...
Solis struck Jose Reyes out and popped Amed Rosario up to end the threat and preserve the Nationals’ one-run lead, 3-2.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 5.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 97 P, 59 S, 7/2 GO/FO.
Harper Homers: Bryce Harper’s home run last night was his major league-leading eighth of 2018, and the 25-year-old slugger started the second of three in Citi Field with an MLB-best 21 walks, a major league-leading 1.265 OPS, and 17 RBIs, which was tied for first amongst all major league hitters..
Harper was also leading all NL hitters in runs scored (17), ranked second in SLG (.778), and ranked third in OBP (.487).
In four games against the Mets, Harper was 6 for 14 (.429/.579/1.071) with three homers, one in each of the last three games, five runs scored, and six RBIs vs the Nationals’ NL East rivals early in 2018.
Harper walked to the plate with a runner on third and one out in his first at bat, and drew a five-pitch walk (22 walks in 2018).
Ryan Zimmerman (2 for 21, .095/.174/.333, 8 Ks in 23 PAs with RISP in 2018) stepped in next with runners on the corners, against Zack Wheeler, and worked the count full and walked, loading the bases with one down, before Moises Sierra sent a roller to short to start a rally-killing, inning-ending 4-6-3 DP.
Harper stepped in with runners on the corners and one out in the third, after singles by Trea Turner and Howie Kendrick, and hit a sac fly to right for a 1-0 lead.
They scratch one across in the 3rd. We look to get the bats going in the home half. #LGM pic.twitter.com/rqOOPbimA3— New York Mets (@Mets) April 17, 2018
Walks, Walks, Walks: Washington entered the game tonight with an MLB-best 84 walks, 15 more than the next teams on that list (NYY and PHI, 69), and took three from Mets’ starter Zack Wheeler in the first 15 trips to the plate. Michael A. Taylor took the Nats’ 87th free pass of 2018 in the second at bat of the fourth, after Moises Sierra singled and stole second, and Wilmer Difo followed with an RBI single on a soft liner to right that made it 2-0 Nationals.
Davey Martinez discussed the benefits of the Nationals’ patient approach before tonight’s game.
“We talked about this all Spring Training,” he said, “they worked with [hitting coach Kevin] Long on just staying in the strike zone and taking your walks. Especially early on in the year, when it’s cold. It’s tough. It’s tough playing conditions, and walks help, and they did that in the eighth inning yesterday and they’ve been doing that all year.
Taylor scored after walking when Pedro Severino hit a line drive, RBI single to left field in the next at bat, 3-0.
BULLPEN ACTION: Sammy Solis took over for Gio Gonzalez with runners on the corners and one out in the bottom of the sixth, with Jose Reyes at the plate, and got a foul-tip third strike for out No. 2, then popped Amed Rosario up to end the threat, still 3-2 Nationals.
Trea Turner walked to start the Nationals’ seventh, and stole second in the next at bat.
Bryce Harper stepped in one out later with a runner in scoring position vs Robert Gsellman, and popped up for out No. 2, but Ryan Zimmerman came through with an RBI line drive to left field, bringing Turner around from second base for a 4-2 lead.
A-pen, Out of Order: Ryan Madson locked down the ninth last night, with Sean Doolittle unavailable, but he got the seventh inning tonight. Yoenis Cespedes and Wilmer Flores connected for back-to-back, one-out singles for a second straight first-and-third, one-out opportunity, but Todd Frazier K’d swinging for out No. 2, and Jay Bruce K’d looking at a fastball inside to end a 21-pitch frame.
Michael A. Taylor singled to start the top of the eighth, stole second, took third on a sac bunt by Wilmer Difo, and was running on contact and scored on a chopper to short off Pedro Severino’s bat, 5-2 Nationals.
Brandon Kintzler got the bottom eighth, and retired two batters before a two-out walk and single by Michael Conforto and Amed Rosario, respectively. Asdrubal Cabrera stepped up with the Mets 0 for 8 w/ RISP on the night, and went down swinging, 0 for 9.
Sean Doolittle took the mound in the ninth and earned the save, No. 3 on the season.
NL East Rivals: Last night’s loss was the Mets’ first in intra-divisional play this season after they’d won eight straight against their NL East opponents, including three in Washington earlier this month.
The loss was New York’s ninth in the last 11 games with the Nationals in Citi Field, however, where Washington was 50-19 since 2011, and they improved to 51-19 over that stretch with their second straight win on the road against the Mets.
Final Score: 5-2 Nationals
Nationals now 9-9