The Washington Nationals powered their way through to a 7-4 win last night over the Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park. The win helped the squad improve the 23-14 on the season, which means they once again sit atop the National League East.
Despite allowing the most earned runs in an outing since his ugly April 7 debut, Gio Gonzalez looked strong Wednesday night through the majority of his start. In total he gave up just four hits, but those hits were well timed as they resulted in three earned runs against the hurler. Gonzalez finished the night with 10 strikeouts, four hits, and two walks in 10 innings pitched. He now leads the National League with 60 K's on the year.
The solo homer was the savior for Washington offensively last night. Ian Desmond, Adam LaRoche, and Xavier Nady all went yard with the bases empty. Bryce Harper was also just several feet away from joining the club during his first at bat, instead earning his first major league triple. Washington needed every run they could get as they allowed Pittsburgh to put four runs on the board, but a hot night at the plate from LaRoche and some good base running from Harper helped the club slug out the victory.
- It's a shame that Gonzalez gave up a home run to Josh Harrison in the top of the seventh inning last night. Had he retired the side it would have marked the seventh straight start in which he had allowed two or fewer runs, which is more than any other Washington starter could claim. The home run was a fluke, and judging by Gio's comments after the game it was clear he knew he just made a silly mistake by leaving the ball hanging in the zone. Harrison had been hitting just .188 entering the game, and had only one career home run in 82 career games. Aside from the one hanger, Gonzalez was as nasty as ever.
- LaRoche was a triple away from the cycle last night, which, knowing his speed, is the closest he will ever get to hitting for the cycle. Nevertheless, it's clear that he is seeing the ball great right now and has no problem driving it to all fields. LaRoche is typically a pull hitter, so teams like the Pirates put a shift on him. How did he respond? One single down the third base line with no infielder anywhere in the same zip code. One double that found the sweet spot between the second baseman and outfielder in the right field shift. And one home run, which, of course, the shift cant stop. He is now hitting .339/.429/.595 with seven home runs and 29 RBI.
- Tyler Moore got the start last night and went 0-3 before being replaced by Rick Ankiel for defense. I think, like most fans, I'm still confused as to why he is up with the Major League club. It's clear to me that playing once every week or week and a half is not helping his development at all, so why doesn't the team just let him play every day in Triple-A? I'd much rather have a confident and ready Tyler Moore in September than one that only sees live pitching once in a blue moon right now.
- Bryce Harper misplayed two more balls in the outfield last night. One was on a low liner that freezed him up. He let it play on one hop and then dropped it when trying to throw a runner out at home. The other was a routine fly ball, which he did catch, but he clearly took a bad route to the ball and almost let it sail over his head. Watching him play outfield will continue to be an adventure, but I honestly thing that in another year or two he has the ability to be one of the best defensive outfielders in baseball.