Watching Washington Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez through the early innings of yesterday’s eventual 7-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, one would have likely had a hard time believing that the left-hander is in the running for the National League Cy Young Award. It is especially true when you consider the performance that New York Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey put on just a few hours earlier when he earned his 20th win of the season after tossing 7 2/3 innings, allowing just three runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out 13 batters.
But if you were to check the box score after the game, Gonzalez’s start would have appeared to be business as usual – three runs on six hits and three walks while striking out six through six innings. After suffering a hiccup in the first inning, which included three walks and three runs on a lofty 37 pitches, Gonzalez settled down. The following five innings, through which he allowed not a walk or a run, required just 69 pitches.
Now, once again, Gonzalez sits atop all of baseball after earning his major league leading 21st win as he continues to build his case for the NL Cy Young. But for Gonzalez, the path to the award is still very much an uphill climb as two contenders remain in the mix – one obvious and one less so. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
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. Continue reading →
The good news coming into this weekend’s final regular-season meeting between the Washington Nationals (89-56) and the Atlanta Braves (83-63) was that a series sweep at the hands of the Braves would leave the Nationals with a still-sizeable 5 1/2 game lead in the National League East. Of course, no one really expected that the Nationals would find themselves in such a position come Monday morning; but barring a win in tonight’s finale, it is exactly where they will find themselves, which explains the team’s renewed sense of urgency regarding the game.
“You don’t want to get swept anywhere, especially against the team behind you, so it’s a big game,” Nationals first baseman Adam LaRoche said. “I think they’re all pretty big from here on out.”
If the Nationals hope to avoid a sweep and lower their magic number to a single digit for the first time this season, they will need a strong showing from Gio Gonzalez, the league’s sole 19-game winner. Braves left-hander Mike Minor will oppose him. Continue reading →
Tonight, the Washington Nationals and the Atlanta Braves will play the first game in a three-game series that will mark the final regular-season meeting between the division rivals.
The series, which was originally slated to provide the unyielding excitement that is typically characteristic of a down-to-the-wire pennant race, will now hold far lesser stakes for a Nationals team that holds a sizeable 8 1/2 game lead over the Braves. In fact, this series was originally so favored that Fox picked up the Saturday afternoon game for national broadcast while ESPN did the same for Sunday’s game, moving it to the 8:05 p.m. time slot on “Sunday Night Baseball.”
Now, one can only assume that the excitement will be replaced by standard end-of-season baseball as the Nationals are assured to bring, at least, a 5 1/2 game lead back to the district. Of course, those results assume that the Braves will sweep their white whale – an outcome that seems unlikely given the quality of play displayed by the two teams as of late.
What happened to the excitement? Well, the aforementioned quality of play has a thing or two to say on the subject. Continue reading →
Tonight, the Washington Nationals (87-54) and the New York Mets (65-76) – the two teams that represent the cities most affected by the tragedies that befell our nation 11 years ago – will meet in the second of a three-game series that somehow seems appropriate. The Nationals will wear their patriotic stars and stripes uniforms for the first time on the road tonight in honor of those who lost their lives in the attacks.
When asked by Mike Puma of the New York Post who he thought was deserving of the league’s top pitching honors, Dickey suggested that Gonzalez might be a worthy choice.
“I think his hits-to-innings pitched and strikeouts really reflect a consistently dominant year,” Dickey said.
If you are wondering, Gonzalez has allowed just 136 hits through a total of 181 1/3 innings pitched. No NL pitcher has a better ratio. He is also holding opponents to a stingy .202 batting average – better than any qualified pitcher in either league. As for strikeouts, Gonzalez comes in fourth with 191 and also boasts a K/9 of 9.84 that is second only to Stephen Strasburg.
But Dickey is no slouch himself, and likely only chose Gonzalez after being informed he was to leave himself out of consideration.
Dickey is 18-4 this year with a 2.64 ERA and 195 strikeouts through 198 innings pitched. Along with Cincinnati Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto, Dickey represents Gonzalez’s biggest obstacle for the award.
Ask Washington Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez what he thinks about the recent buzz surrounding his candidacy for the National League Cy Young Award and the question is likely to be brushed aside.
“I want to continue to win for this team, continue to stay healthy and strong, keep battling and get some more wins for them,” Gonzalez said. “We are playing such great baseball. I think it’s selfish of me to think [about] myself.”
Those were his words last Wednesday after tossing seven shutout innings in the Nationals’ 9-1 win over the Chicago Cubs. But humble as he may be, Gonzalez surely has thoughts of the NL Cy Young Award creeping into the corners of his mind at this point, especially after continually being asked about it. Continue reading →
It was an eventful weekend for the Washington Nationals (86-54), who dropped two of three games to the Miami Marlins and had their lead in the National League East cut to 5 1/2 games. In addition to failing yet again to take a season series from the Marlins, the Nationals also received word that young right-hander Stephen Strasburg would be shut down prior to his final expected start of the season. How did Strasburg take the news?
“I don’t know if I’m ever going to accept it, to be honest with you,” Strasburg said. “It’s something that I’m not happy about at all. That’s not why I play the game.”