Apr 23, 2014, 3:25 PM EST
If the Nationals want to avoid getting swept tonight by the Angels, they might want to at least give themselves a fighting chance and not dig themselves into an early hole yet again. Nine times this season they have given up at least two runs in the first inning; five times they’ve given up at least three runs, as was the case last night.
So it’s up to Gio Gonzalez to not only give the Nationals a quality start tonight, but get his start off to a quality start early on. The lefty was great last time out against the Cardinals, allowing one run over seven innings.
The Nats also wouldn’t mind scoring an early run or two to put everyone’s mind at ease. For that to happen, they’ll need Denard Span to get himself going: he’s just 3-for-17 with two walks since returning from the concussion DL. They could also use some better at-bats from slumping Jayson Werth (2 for his last 20), Bryce Harper (2 for his last 22) and Ian Desmond (hitting .196 over his last 12 games).
Updates to come, please check back…
LOS ANGELES ANGELS VS. WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN, MLB.tv
Radio: 106.7 FM, 1500 AM, XM 183, MLB.com
Weather: Cold and windy, 58 degrees, Wind 18 mph LF to RF
CF Denard Span
3B Anthony Rendon
RF Jayson Werth
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Bryce Harper
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Jose Lobaton
LHP Gio Gonzalez
RF Collin Cowgill
CF Mike Trout
1B Albert Pujols
2B Howie Kendrick
SS Erick Aybar
C Chris Iannetta
3B David Freese
LF J.B. Shuck
RHP Jered Weaver
HP Paul Emmel
1B Toby Basner
2B Jordan Baker
3B Jerry Meals (cc)
7:06 p.m. — And we’re underway on a chilly, windy night here in the District. Gio Gonzalez throws ball one low to Collin Cowgill.
7:17 p.m. — Well, here we go yet again. Gio loaded the bases with one out on a Mike Trout double, Albert Pujols single and Howie Kendrick walk. So the Nats once again were about to dig themselves into an early hole … until Erick Aybar lined into a double play, with Ian Desmond catching the ball just about the ground and flipping to second for an easy twin-killing. The Nats might actually have been able to turn a triple play had there been zero outs at the time. They’ll happily take this, though, escaping the top of the first without allowing a run.
7:27 p.m. — The Nats had something going in the bottom of the first, thanks to Anthony Rendon’s bunt single and Adam LaRoche’s base hit to right. Bryce Harper then smoked a line drive to shallow center field, what looked like an RBI single. But Trout (who else?) came charging in and made the diving catch just before the ball hit the ground. Great play from one young star robbing another young star. Scoreless after one.
7:45 p.m. — Help me out here: Am I watching the 2014 Washington Nationals or the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals? Whoever these guys are, they’re bunting straight out of the Astroturf era. Two of their first three hits tonight were on bunts, including Danny Espinosa’s to get a second-inning rally going. The clutch hit of the inning, though, came from none other than Gio Gonzalez. Yes, Gio. He roped a 2-out RBI single to left, scoring Espinosa and putting the Nats up 1-0 after two.
8:03 p.m. — Middle of the fourth now. Gio is cruising, having retired eight in a row. Still 1-0 Nats.
8:22 p.m. — Make it 11 in a row retired by Gio, who has just been locked in since that first-inning double play. He’s at 71 pitches through five, the Nats still up 1-0.
8:49 p.m. — (Chase taking over) The top of the sixth inning saw the Angels take the lead, and Matt Williams make a decision that could end up being the story of the game. First, the runs. Trout led off with a walk and then scored all the way from first on a Pujols double to left field. The ball ricocheted off the sidewall in left and Harper was a split second late on the throw to home. Then, after throwing just 83 pitches and allowing one run, Gonzalez was replaced by Aaron Barrett. Barrett allowed an RBI single to Aybar two batters later to give the Angels a 2-1 lead. Why was Gio taken out? We’ll have to find out after the game. He did not look pleased in the dugout when shown on TV just a minute ago.
8:58 p.m. — The Nationals got two men on in the bottom of the sixth, but left with nothing to show for it. The frame also saw Harper curiously bunt foul with two strikes, and the Nats’ bullpen get up to do synchronized stretches together in a line. This game is getting weird.
9:12 p.m. — Barrett came back out for the top of the seventh and finally allowed his first MLB run to give the Angels a 3-1 lead. Freese led off with a double and moved to third on a Shuck groundout. Two batters later, against Cowgill, Barrett threw a wild pitch to score the third run.
9:25 p.m. — Michael Kohn – who went to my alma mater, the College of Charleston – took over as the Angels pitcher in the bottom of the seventh and left with another scoreless inning for the Halos. He got Nate McLouth (pinch-hitting for Barrett) to fly out before walking Span. Span moved to second on a wild pitch, but Rendon and Werth flew out to end the inning.
9:32 p.m. — Ross Detwiler took over to start the eighth and allowed two baserunners, but no runs. Kendrick walked and Aybar singled to LF with one out before Iannetta grounded into a 5-4-3 double play.
9:41 p.m. — No runs once again for the Nats, despite Harper getting on with one out. Harper hit a grounder to first base that Pujols booted into foul territory, and then made a bad throw to first. Harper was jogging out of the box and then sprinted once he saw the misplay. It was very close to being a bad look for Harper who was benched just a few days ago for not hustling to first on a ‘routine’ grounder.
10:08 p.m. — Trout added an insurance run for the Angels with an RBI single that scored Raul Ibanez (41 years old) from second. It was a single and Harper’s throw home wasn’t in time. How did Ibanez get there in time? Kind of amazing. Anyways, it’s 4-1 now with Lobaton, a pinch-hitter and Span up next for final chance.
10:27 p.m. — The Nationals are walk-off winners. Lobaton led off with a solo home run to right field. Werth hit a 2 RBI double to tie it. And LaRoche singled home Werth to win the game. 12-10 is their record now after this series.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
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As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
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