Nats Improve To 2-0 Behind Gio Gonzalez And More Offense

The second game of the season for the Washington Nationals certainly wasn’t short on excitement. There were plenty of home runs and a great start by Gio Gonzalez as the Nats improved to 2-0 on the season and go for the sweep on Thursday afternoon before return to DC for their home opener on Friday.

Things got dicey early for Gonzalez as Juan Lagares hit a lead off triple for the Mets in the first inning and later scored on a sacrifice fly from David Wright. After that, though, Gio Gonzalez settled down, despite getting squeezed by home plate umpire Clint Fagan throughout the game. He made it through six innings and gave up just one run on three hits, a walk, and six strikeouts. It was masterful work from the Nats number two pitcher.

Jayson Werth got his second hit in Wednesday’s game in the fourth inning, a double, that put him in scoring position for the game’s clean up hitter Adam LaRoche. Fighting the severe shift, LaRoche placed a ball in the deep left field corner, scoring Werth and tying the game. The Nats offense only got hotter from here.

In the top of the fifth, the Nats offense put up two solo home runs from one likely and one unlikely subject. Ian Desmond crushed one to left center, his first of the season, and two batters later, Gio Gonzalez sent a towering shot just over the left field wall for his third career home run, giving the Nats a 3-1 lead.

In the bottom of the fifth,  Gonzalez got into a spot of trouble on the mound after a few missed strike calls by the home plate ump, but Bryce Harper had his back. After a double by Lagares, Harper threw a laser from left field to get Ruben Tejada by two full steps at home plate to end the inning and save a run. It was the latest in a string of amazing throws by the young Nats outfielder.

In the seventh inning, the Mets bullpen got involved, and then things got really interesting. Gonzalez Germen replaced the starter, Bartolo Colon, and immediately gave up two doubles: one to Denard Span and one to Anthony Rendon. Rendon’s hung in the air for a long time, so Span wasn’t able to score in case it was caught, but he scored just three pitches later on a wild pitch, extending the lead to 4-1.

The Nats tacked onto their totals in the ninth after Span tripled and scored on a ground ball to shortstop from Rendon, making it a 5-1 game. It was yet another example of good, fundamental baseball that the Nats will be hoping to capitalize on this season.

Some thoughts:

– Drew Storen locked down the seventh inning. He’s now retired the first six batters he’s faced this season, four of them via strikeout, using the filthy stuff we got used to in the 2011 and 2012 seasons.

– Tyler Clippard, not to be outdone by his friend and former roommate Drew Storen, was equally filthy after a five-pitch walk to start the eighth. He struck out the side and featured his devastating high fastball and changeup combination. As I mentioned on Twitter, it’s amazing that he’s able to have such success by routinely leaving the fastball up in the zone, but somehow, he does.

(AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)

Joe Drugan

About Joe Drugan

Joe is the Managing Editor of The Nats Blog and host of the Nats Talk On The Go podcast. He's been blogging about the Nationals since 2010 and with The Nats Blog since 2011.