Gio Gonzalez has been solid for the Nationals in 2012, but even the best pitchers are bound to have a bad day here and there. It was a game that, on the surface, looked as if it would be fun and good game for the Nationals, but there is a reason that there are 9 innings in a baseball game. After today’s loss, there are now 3 teams that can take hold of 1st place in the NL East. A lot of pitches, a few weird defensive plays, and a lack of timely hitting would leave the Nationals on the losing end today.
Today, Gio lasted only 4.2 innings against the Atlanta Braves. The Braves were swinging often and early against Gio, which it seemed might be helpful for Gio, as balls could be put in play and the defense could get the outs. Early in the game however, Gio Gonzalez seemed to have thrown a lot of pitches. By the time he was through the 4th inning, Gio had already thrown 66 pitches. Gio would get pulled in the 5th in favor of Craig Stammen after having thrown 91 pitches. Gio’s final line would be 4.2 IP, 7H, 3R, 3BB, 5K, and 2 WP. Such a tough game has been something of a rarity for Gio as he has played deep into most games he has started. On the plus side, the bullpen was excellent. Craig Stammen pitched 2.1 scoreless and Sean Burnett got in a bit of a sticky situation, but would get out of it unscathed. The Nationals would threaten later in the 8th inning after both Lombardozzi and Harper would work back from 0-2 holes and draw walks. However, Ryan Zimmerman hit into a 4-6-3 double play and Adam LaRoche would fly out to end the inning.
Tommy Hanson pitched quite well today, as he would go 7 innings and allow only 2 runs to the Nationals. In the 1st inning, Lombardozzi would get his first career home run and Bryce Harper, not to be outdone, would follow up with another home run. Having seen this, it seemed the Nationals would be off to a quick start. Sadly, this was not the case. Hanson settled down nicely and ended up throwing only 84 pitches in 7 innings. Hanson’s final line would be 7 IP, 6H, 2R, 0BB, 6K, and 2HR’s (Lombo and Harper). A few weird defensive plays by the Nationals would help the Braves as well. Bourn hit a ground ball to 1st base that was fielded by LaRoche. It looked as if LaRoche was able to take the ball to the bag himself, but he threw the ball to Gio trying to cover and Bourn would successfully make it to 1st base for a single. Zimmerman even had a strange play that bounced off of his glove, the play was definitely a hit all the way, but it was just another infield single that looked like tough luck for the Nationals.
In the end, the Braves would top the Nationals 3-2. The loss today makes a 3 way tie in the NL East between the Nationals, Marlins, and the Mets. It is amazing to say the least that the NL East is as tight as it is. The Nationals will have to keep getting those amazing pitching performances and timely hits to keep on picking up the wins and stay in the race. Gio had a rough day, but it is a good guess that he will be looking forward to a bounce back performance in his next start.