Gio Gonzalez gave up four walks, a grand slam and a single in a 43-pitch second inning that ended the series opener with the Tampa Bays Rays before it really got started. It was 6-0 by the time Gonzalez was lifted, and 10-0 before Rays’ lefty Blake Snell gave up his first hit on a leadoff double by Anthony Rendon in the first at bat of the seventh inning of what ended up an 11-0 loss for the Washington Nationals.
Gonzalez vs the Rays: Gio Gonzalez was winless in his last four outings before tonight’s start against the Rays with a 6.20 ERA and a .298/.344/.548 line against in 20 1⁄3 innings pitched in June.
The rough stretch of outings left the lefty with a 3.08 ERA and a .246/.315/.391 line against in 84 2⁄3 IP on the season, after he finished the first two months with just a 2.10 ERA and a .228/.305/.336 line against.
Gonzalez worked around a one-out walk in the bottom of the first in the series opener with Tampa Bay, but lost the zone in the second, issuing a leadoff walk to C.J. Cron, a hard-hit double to right field by Jake Bauers, who crushed a full-count fastball, and a base-loading walk to Carlos Gomez, before unloading a wild pitch to Adeiny Hechavarria that allowed a run to come in, 1-0.
Hechavarria walked too, and Gonzalez’s fourth walk of the inning (and fifth of the game) to Willy Adames, forced in a second run, 2-0.
Kevin Kiermaier went to a full count as well, and hit a grand slam over the center field fence on an 89 mph fastball from Gonzalez, 6-0. Kiermaier’s first home run of 2018.
"Rays threatening to blow it open early..." pic.twitter.com/GmSb0JjP7q— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 26, 2018
Gonzalez was up to 62 pitches after a single to center by Matt Duffy, and Davey Martinez decided that it was enough.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 5 BB, 2 Ks, 1 HR, 62 P, 29 S, 0/1 GO/FO.
Snell vs the Nationals: Rays’ left-hander Blake Snell had just one loss in his last seven starts before tonight’s, with a 1.70 ERA, a .173/.275/.273 line against, 20 walks, and 50 Ks in 42 1⁄3 innings over that stretch, which left him with a 2.48 ERA, a .190/.269/.338 line against, 36 walks, and 103 Ks in 16 starts and 94 1⁄3 innings on the season.
Tonight in Tampa Bay, Snell was facing a Nats’ lineup that had a combined .237/.315/.387 line vs lefties on the season, which had them ranked 18th/17th/21st across the line in the majors this season.
Snell struggled to throw strikes early, however, walking Trea Turner and Bryce Harper in the first two at bats of the game, but a fly to center by Anthony Rendon (on which both runners advanced), and a swinging K by Juan Soto got the Rays’ starter two quick outs, before a fly to right by Michael A. Taylor ended the threat.
Snell was up to nine straight Nationals retired when he got Bryce Harper looking with a 96 mph 2-2 fastball for the final out of the top of the third inning, and 12 batters in a row after he struck out the side in the fourth.
He picked up his ninth K in a 1-2-3 fifth that had him up to 15 straight set down, and retired three straight in the sixth (with some help from his defense) for 18 straight and six hitless.
Anthony Rendon broke up the no-hit bid in the first at bat of the seventh, however, lining a leadoff double off the left field fence on a 3-1 changeup.
Snell was up to 100 pitches even after his second walk of the seventh put runners on the corners with two down, but a Wilmer Difo groundout on his 103nd pitch got the lefty out with his shutout intact.
Blake Snell’s Line: 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 10 Ks, 103 P, 63 S, 6/2 GO/FO.
BULLPEN ACTION: Justin Miller got the Nationals out of the second after taking over for Gio Gonzalez, but gave up leadoff and two-out singles in the third, and threw a wild pitch with a runner on third base, which allowed the seventh run of the game to come in.
Wilson Ramos took Miller deep on a first-pitch fastball in the Rays’ half of the fourth, lining a no-doubter out to left field to make it an 8-0 game.
Tim Collins took over on the mound after Miller at up three innings in relief, and tossed a quick, scoreless bottom of the fifth, but Ramos hit his second home run of the game and eleventh of the season on a first-pitch fastball in the bottom of the sixth, 10-0.
Matt Grace worked around an error in a scoreless, 16-pitch seventh and came back out and gave up a run in the seventh on an RBI single by Jake Bauers.
Final Score: 11-0 Rays
Nationals now 41-36