The temperature at Nats Park clearly had an impact on both the Washington Nationals bats and arms Wednesday night, but the April chill wasn’t enough to stop the club en route to their second win of the season, a 3-0 decision over the Miami Marlins.
Gio Gonzalez threw six scoreless innings in this, his first start of 2013, but he was far from regular season form. The lefty only spotted 55 of his 91 pitches for strikes on the night, and gave up two free passes, including one to the Marlins starter Kevin Slowey.
It was the kind of evening where you could tell Gonzalez was getting by on his craft, rather than his stuff. His fastball danced around 90 while his curveball was inconsistent in producing outs. While he did manage five strikeouts, he was often behind in the count and relied on some weakly hit balls to get out of jams. Gio has expressed in the past that he has difficulty locating pitches when it gets colder outside, but its certainly a trend we’d like to see bucked when October baseball comes around.
Gonzalez did boost the Nationals poor offensive showing early by taking matters into his own hands. His fifth inning solo home run off Slowey gave Washington a 1-0 lead, which was all they would need on the night.
This was a strong second win for the Nationals, as the team's bats slowly began to come alive. Still, it is really hard to gather much from these games, as the Marlins aren't really much of an opponent. That's not to put the Marlins down by any means, but their roster was completely gutted by their front office this offseason, leaving them with a starting lineup of journeymen and youngsters. So while it's great that Nationals opponents are scoreless against them through the first 18 innings of the years, those numbers must be taken with a grain of salt.
A Few Nuggets:
- Bryce Harper was 2-4 with a single and a double, extending his hitting streak to 11 games dating back to last season.
- Ian Desmond seemed to struggle a bit with his throws tonight, potentially due to the cold weather. He had a throwing error in the second after an outstanding play with the glove. Several other throws to first baseman Adam LaRoche seemed off but were snagged by the club’s Gold Glover at the bag.
- Drew Storen made his first appearance on the mound at Nats Park tonight since blowing a save in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Cardinals last fall. The former Nationals closer retired the side on 14 pitches, tallying one strikeout.
- Ryan Zimmerman earned his first hit of the season with a triple to right. Giancarlo Stanton misplayed the ball of the wall.
- Marlins first basemen Kasey Kotchman left the game with a left-hamstring strain after attempting to leg-out a ball to first. He’s listed as day to day.
While it was indeed pretty clear that Gio didn't have his best stuff and it is true that the Marlins' roster stinks, he got better as the game went along AND he tied Giancarlo Stanton up in knots rather than just pitching around him. If this is how Gio pitches when he isn't feeling well and the conditions are awful, he's going to be just fine.