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A Series Win Against Rays Gets The Nationals Back On Track

After the Washington Nationals got swept by the New York Yankees last weekend, there was some irrational concern by people around baseball. The Nats did their best to quell those thoughts with a series win against the Tampa Bay Rays after a 5-2 victory on Thursday.

Gio Gonzalez was on the bump for the Nats on Thursday, which has been good for the team so far this year. However, Gonzelez was wild from the start; he threw just seven strikes in his first 17 pitches. He eventually settled and made it through six innings, giving up just two runs on seven hits. He struck out a season-low four batters, but it didn’t matter. The team around him performed enough to get him the win. 

Gonzalez gave up the tying run in the sixth inning, but his offense picked him up in the bottom of the inning to earn him a win. Danny Espinosa’s line drive double to right field scored Jesus Flores and Adam LaRoche to give the Nats a 4-2 lead and they never looked back. It was a great night for Espinosa, but more on that later. Eventually, Tyler Clippard earned his 11th save in his last 11 tries. This is a story that is somehow flying under the radar.

After concerns following of the Yankees series, the Nats have won yet another series against an AL East team. It’s the 18th time this season that they’ve won or split a series in 23 series. That’s a recipe for winning baseball if I’ve ever seen one. The Nats are now 40-17 on the season; that’s 13 games above the .500 mark.

Some thoughts:

- Danny Espinosa had one of the best games of his career on Thursday. He went 2-for-4 with a walk and two RBI. He led the Nats with four total bases on the day, and he drove in the game-winning runs poetically against Joel Peralta. He was certainly the player of the game.

- Tyler Moore had a great night in the lineup, at first base this time. He walked in his first two at-bats, before eventually taking Matt Moore for a 11-pitch at-bat before being pulled in favor of Adam LaRoche after he pinch hit for the pitcher. Moore keeps putting together at-bats far beyond his years as a rookie.

- Ryan Zimmerman went 1-for-4 on Thursday, but doesn’t have an RBI since June 10; that’s 9 games. During that stretch, he’s watched his average drop from a bad .244 to a really bad .226. The Nats have to be seriously concerned at this point, and Davey Johnson may even consider another No. 3 hitter at this point if Zimmerman isn’t actually hurt. His defense has still been impeccable, though, which will almost certainly keep him in the lineup.

About Joe Drugan

Managing editor of The Nats Blog and co-host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast.

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