Though the Washington Nationals (91-59) suffered a disappointing 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers (78-72) last night after a blown save from Tyler Clippard, the team actually managed to move a step closer towards clinching the National League East. With the Atlanta Braves’ loss to the Philadelphia Phillies, the Nationals’ lead stood pat at 5 1/2 games while their magic number dropped to seven. And despite a recent string of less-than-stellar performances from Clippard, manager Davey Johnson has no plans to reduce the co-closer’s role in the bullpen.
“He’ll be fine,” Johnson said. “That one just got away. One battle. He’s been pretty awfully good.”
This afternoon, all eyes will be on another Nationals pitcher as left-hander and sole 19-game winner Gio Gonzalez heads to the mound in search of his 20th win. To earn it, he will need to out-pitch Brewers right-hander Wily Peralta, who started his first major league game earlier this month.
Signed by Milwaukee as an amateur free agent in 2005, Peralta (2-0, 2.14 ERA) played nearly seven years in the Brewers’ farm system before making his major league debut on April 22 earlier this year.
After having made a single appearance with the club, he was optioned back to the Nashville Sounds, where he posted a record of 7-11 with a 4.66 ERA through 146 2/3 innings pitched. September’s expanded rosters have allowed Peralta to rejoin the team, where he was immediately inserted into the starting rotation.
Since rejoining the team, Peralta has allowed just four runs through 20 innings pitched. He will be coming off of a marvelous outing – a scoreless eight-inning effort in which he allowed just two hits and a walk while striking out five.
Today’s start will mark Peralta’s first career start against the Nationals.
For Gonzalez (19-8, 2.95 ERA), today marks his second opportunity to reach 20 wins for the season. And though he has been dominant as of late – posting a record of 3-1 with a 1.00 ERA through his last four starts – he will have to make a better showing than he did in his last outing nearly a week ago.
Gonzalez is coming off of a tough start against the Braves, in which he allowed two runs on four hits and four walks while striking out five on 110 pitches through five innings.
Gonzalez did not fare well in his only other career start against the Brewers, which came earlier this year on July 29. He surrendered five runs on five hits, five walks and two hit batsmen while striking out four through six long innings. He would earn a no-decision in the Nationals’ eventual 11-10 win.
It will be business as usual with today’s lineup, as Johnson plans to start the regulars every day until the team clinches the division title.