Apparently, revenge is a dish best served on a warm 78-degree afternoon. And yesterday, the Washington Nationals (92-59), led by left-hander Gio Gonzalez, got their revenge on a Milwaukee Brewers (78-73) team that usurped a win in the ninth inning of Friday night’s four-game series opener.
For Gonzalez, the outing was a perfect response to an earlier July 29 outing in which the Brewers handled his repertoire by belting five runs on five hits and earned seven free passes on five walks and two hit batsmen. The fact that yesterday’s win marked number 20 for Gonzalez, who is the only pitcher to have reached that mark this year, was icing on the cake.
“This is like a dream,” Gonzalez said, “and I feel like I’m still sleeping in it.”
This afternoon, the Nationals will look to ensure, at least, a series split as they take on red-hot right-hander Yovani Gallardo. On the mound for Washington, making just his fifth start of the year is sinkerballer Chien-Ming Wang.
The last time Gallardo (16-8, 3.59 ERA) lost was on July 26. Ironically, that loss came in the first of a four-game series with the Nationals at Miller Park. In the outing, Gallardo pitched just five innings, surrendering seven runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out six. Since the loss, Gallardo has made a total of 10 starts, resulting in 10 wins for the club and eight decisions overall, each a win.
Unsurprisingly, Gallardo will be coming off of a win in Pittsburgh. And despite walking four batters in the outing, Gallardo tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits while striking out six.
In seven career appearances against the Nationals, Gallardo is 3-2 with a 5.06 ERA through 37 1/3 innings pitched.
For Wang (2-3, 6.92 ERA), this afternoon marks a rare spot start after Wednesday’s doubleheader left the Nationals in need of a pitcher to prevent Jordan Zimmermann from pitching on short rest.
An injury-riddled season, including a two-month stint on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hip, has held Wang to just eight appearances with the Nationals this year. His most recent appearance was a scoreless 2 1/3-inning relief effort in Wednesday’s doubleheader. Wang allowed just two hits and pitched well enough for manager Davey Johnson to feel comfortable handing the ball to the veteran right-hander today.
“I like the way Chien-Ming Wang threw,” Johnson said. “He had good sink.”
He will need a good sinker today to avoid being hit hard by a Brewers team that outscored opponents by a margin of 34-16 in their six games prior to yesterday’s loss.
Today will mark Wang’s first career appearance against the Brewers.
As noted yesterday, Johnson plans to play the regulars every day until the team clinches the National League East. As such, there are no surprises in today’s lineup. Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche will be one to watch this afternoon. In his career against Gallardo, he is batting .318 with two home runs and five RBIs.