Gio Gonzalez put together a great outing to earn his 20th win of the season. He was the first pitcher in baseball to hit the 20-win mark this season as he continues to push toward the front of the NL Cy Young pack. The Washington Nationals offense supported his cause with 10 runs of support as they beat up on the Milkwaukee Brewers 10-2, which lowers their magic number for the division to six pending the Atlanta Braves game this afternoon.
Gonzalez had his great curveball working and had Brewers hitters guessing through seven innings of baseball. He threw 90 pitches and gave up just two unearned runs on three hits. With 20-win status under lock and key and a 2.84 ERA and an identical FIP, Gonzalez is moving toward frontrunner status for the NL Cy Young Award with every outing. His manager, Davey Johnson, believes his number one starter should win the Cy Young. When asked if Gio’s a Cy Young winner this year, Davey said, “Hands down.”
Gio struck out his 200th batter of the season in the fifth inning, which made him the first DC pitcher to hit the 200 mark since Walter Johnson did it for the Washington Senators in 1916. That’s some good company.
The offense did it’s part in getting the Nats a big lead to help Gio in his quest for 20 wins, too. In the third and fourth innings, the lineup batted around and put up nine of their 10 runs. The three-run third inning ousted starter Wily Peralta after just two and two-thirds innings, which brought in former Nationals pitcher Livan Hernandez.
In the fourth, some Nats got to their former teammate when Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond both put up three-run home runs in the inning. Davey mentioned that when you play in the infield behind a pitcher for a while, you get to know him.
“Being a middle infielder, anytime you play behind somebody, you know what they’re gonna throw, ‘cause you live it,” Davey said. “I’m sure Desi knew every sequence that was coming.” He said he respected Livo but didn’t feel bad for lighting him up for six runs.
Bryce Harper stole third base in the third inning when he got a bit too far off of second base, prompting a throw from Martin Maldonado. Harper broke for third on the throw and made it easily. “That’s a typical Harper move, trying to make something happen," Davey recalled. "As he is in everything, overly aggressive.”
Later, in the sixth, Harper misplayed one ball and then didn’t make the catch on a challenging catch going back on a line drive and was charged an error. “That shoulda been a hit,” the Nats skipper said. “although, that’s an earned run, so I’d rather it be an error,” alluding to it not counting toward Gio’s ERA.
With their 92nd win, the Nats retain their hold on best record in baseball and move ever closer to the NL East division title. It was a sellout crowd of 40,493 at the Park, largely due to the Dieks Bentley post-game concert, but it was still an electric atmosphere before a huge crowd. It’s just a preview of what’s to come in October.