WASHINGTON, D.C.: Gio Gonzalez was better. Not great. But better. Gonzalez limited Miami to two runs over five innings, but walked four Marlins in a 114-pitch effort, working his way in and out of trouble with the help of four double plays. It was tied at 2-2 after eight and a half when Mark Reynolds hit a walk-off home run to win it, and with the win, the Washington Nationals extended their winning streak against their divisional rivals to 13-straight games.
Gio vs MIA: Gio Gonzalez took the mound tonight with a six-start winless streak going, over which the left-hander was (0-3) with a 7.86 ERA and a .290/.374/.523 line against in 26 1⁄3 IP.
His last start before tonight’s began well, when he held the Phillies’ off the scoreboard over four innings, which he completed on 49 pitches, but a 40-pitch, three-walk, three-run fifth ended his outing in Citizens Bank Park.
Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez put the “Gio Whisperer”, Spencer Kieboom, behind the plate for tonight’s start, noting before the game that the 27-year-old catcher, “... tends to be able to communicate for some reason with Gio a lot, I mean he really communicates with him a lot,” in the hope that he could keep the left-hander level-headed should he run into trouble like he did in Philadelphia.
Kieboom helped his pitcher out of the first, doing his part to erase a one-out walk on a strike’em out, throw’em out double play that ended 24-pitch opening frame.
1. Strike 'em out.— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 6, 2018
2. Throw 'em out.
3. Head back to the dugout. pic.twitter.com/maqFgJ9LPn
A 6-3 double play in the Marlins’ half of the second erased a leadoff walk, and Gonzalez stranded a two-out single in an 18-pitch frame that left him at 42 total after two.
A leadoff single by Cameron Maybin in the third led to the Marlins’ first run, however, after a bunt moved Maybin up and an RBI double to left by Starlin Castro drove him in, 1-0.
Gonzalez’s third walk and back-to-back singles loaded the bases with one out in the Marlins’ fourth, but Maybin sent a grounder to third that Anthony Rendon sno-coned but handled for a 5-3 DP that ended a 21-pitch top of the fourth.
Rendon celebrates the start of sno-cone season. pic.twitter.com/Ar890VN53i— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) July 7, 2018
Given a 2-1 lead to work with, Gonzalez gave up back-to-back-to-back hits to start the top of the fifth, with the opposing pitcher, Dan Straily, and Starling Castro, and Brian Anderson all singling, but Trea Turner fielded a J.T. Realmuto grounder to short and threw home, one out, before a free pass to Martin Prado forced in the tying run, 2-2.
Back-to-back Ks left the bases loaded, but pushed the Nats’ lefty up to 114 overall to end his outing.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 4 Ks, 114 P, 66 S, 6/2 GO/FO.
Straily vs the Nationals: Dan Straily had just one win in his last six starts before facing the Nationals tonight, with a 5.86 ERA and a .255/.344/.491 line against in 27 2⁄3 innings in that stretch, over which he gave up 27 hits, seven of them home runs, and 12 walks (3.90 BB/9).
Straily was coming off a seven-inning outing against the New York Mets which saw him give up five hits, four walks, and three earned runs in what ended up a 5-2 loss.
In his first start of the season against Miami’s NL East rivals, Straily worked around two hits for three scoreless innings (on 43 pitches) to, then gave up back-to-back walks in the home-half of the fourth, to Anthony Rendon and Bryce Harper, to set the Nationals up with their first runner in scoring position on the night, and an RBI single to right by Adam Eaton gave the Nats their first run, 1-1.
Wilmer Difo was 2 for 2 on the night after he followed up on Eaton’s single with an RBI hit of his own, taking a 3-2 fastball to right to put the Nationals up, 2-1.
Straily was up to 105 pitches after a two-out single by Adam Eaton in the bottom of the sixth, and Eaton stole second, but was stranded there when Cameron Maybin made an impressive diving catch in center to rob Wilmer Difo of a potential RBI double/triple. 22-pitch frame for Straily.
Dan Straily’s Line: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 111 P, 66 S, 8/5 GO/FO.
Fish Dominance: With last night’s improbable comeback win, the Nationals extended a 12-game winning streak over the Marlins, which was Washington’s longest winning streak vs any single opponent in Nationals history (2005-present).
BULLPEN ACTION: Justin Miller took over for the Nationals in the top of the sixth, and gave up a leadoff single, but a slick 6-4-3 on a Cameron Maybin grounder and a swinging K from the opposing pitcher, Dan Straily, ended a 16-pitch frame.
Brandon Kintzler got the ball for the Nationals in the top of the seventh, and retired the side in order in a 12-pitch frame.
Brad Ziegler worked around a hit in a scoreless 14-pitch seventh.
Ryan Madson came on for the Nationals in the top of the eighth and tossed a scoreless, 14-pitch frame to keep it tied at 2-2.
Anthony Rendon walked to start the Nats’ eighth, with Drew Steckenrider on for the Fish, and Bryce Harper did as well, just as they had in the Nationals’ two-run fourth, and Matt Adams hit a grounder to second that Starlin Castro dove for but could only knock down. Bases loaded. Adam Eaton, who drive in a run with a single in the fourth, lined out to left, not deep enough. Wilmer Difo stepped in next, and popped out to short. Daniel Murphy? Pop to center. Nats leave’em loaded. That’s ... not good.
Sean Doolittle retired the Marlins in order in an eight-pitch top of the ninth, still 2-2.
Kyle Barraclough came on to try to keep it tied, and went 3-0 on pinch hitter Mark Reynolds, who took a healthy cut at a fastball, 3-1, then crushed the next pitch. Ballgame.
Final Score: 3-2 Nationals
Nationals now 44-43