The Nationals had lost four straight games entering this Reds series, and the offense had been deplorable. The entire 25-man roster decided today was going to be the end of that, as they put a hurting on the Reds in all aspects of their play in the 8-1 victory.
Gio Gonzalez got things started on the right note, and he never let up for the rest of his outing. He was perfect through the first 11 batters of the game before giving up a home run to Joey Votto. It was an opposite field shot that barely made it over the wall.
From the first pitch, Gio was locked in with his fastball between 92-95 mph. He continued to attack hitters deep into his outing, throwing a lot of fastballs and working in breaking stuff. He didn’t have the best command of his curveball, but he was able to use it to change speeds and the hitter’s perspective to use his fastball effectively.
He finished the game with eight masterful innings under his belt in what was his best start of the season by far. He gave up just one hit on the Votto home run in the fourth, walked two batters, and struck out seven. It was the exact kind of start the Nats needed from their starter to break a rough stretch of games.
The Nats offense helped allow Gio to do that though, giving him a bit of a cushion early. In the second inning, Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa got back to back to get things started, and Espinosa drove Desmond in for the first run of the game. Denard Span later knocked in Espinosa to give the Nats a 2-0 lead early.
The offense really broke free the very next inning. Bryce Harper led off the third with a massive home run, his eighth of the year, to the grass in deep center field, giving the Nats a 3-0 lead, but they were nowhere near done in that inning. Jayson Werth singled, and on an Adam LaRoche tailor made double play ball, Werth got in the way of Joey Votto’s throw but was in the base line, so both he and LaRoche were safe on third and first, respectively. Desmond drove in Werth on a groundout, and then Espinosa showed up again, hitting a two-run blast into the Nats bullpen and giving them a 6-0 lead.
In the sixth, Gio walked his first batter of the game, Devin Mesoraco, which is a great improvement for him from his previous starts. Bronson Arroyo popped up a bunt and was unable to move the runner over. Steve Lombardozzi made a couple nice picks at third to get two of the three outs in the inning, and Gio got around the leadoff walk without trouble.
The Nats weren’t quite done pouring on the runs, though. In the eighth, Desmond got picked off of first base, even though he clearly got back safely, but then Kurt Suzuki walked, and Roger Bernadina, pinch hitting for Gio Gonzalez, recorded his first his of the season. Span then drove them both in with a triple to the centerfield wall over Shin-Soo Choo’s head, giving the Nats an 8-1 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
This game was exactly what the doctor ordered after a terrible few games for the offense. With the eight run showing, they scored more runs than they have in the last four games combined, and it tied for second their best offensive production of the season. It also tied for the best run differential (+7) of any game this season. They have three more games to play against this very good Reds team at home, and they’ve moved back to .500 on the season at 11-11.