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Instant analysis: Nats 6, Astros 5

Jun 18, 2014, 10:49 PM EDT

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GAME IN A NUTSHELL: On a sweltering night on South Capitol Street, the Nationals made everyone sweat a little more with their play on the field. Gio Gonzalez labored through five innings in his return from a month-long stint on the DL. The lineup failed to capitalize on several early opportunities to knock out Scott Feldman.

In the end, though, the Nationals stuck with it and wound up giving all those fans who stuck it out through a heat index of 101 degrees reason to go home happy. They rallied for three runs in the bottom of the seventh, turning a 5-3 deficit into a 6-5 lead thanks in large part to Anthony Rendon’s homer and Nate McLouth’s sac fly.

Tyler Clippard rebounded from a rough night to toss a 1-2-3 eighth, Rafael Soriano closed it out for his 15th save and the Nationals finished off a 2-game sweep of the Astros. They now own a 1 1/2-game lead in the NL East heading into a huge, 4-game series with the Braves this weekend.

HITTING HIGHLIGHT: The Nationals gave themselves chances all night. They finally converted them in the bottom of the seventh. Rendon blasted the first pitch of the inning into the Red Porch seats. Jayson Werth walked and then showed great instincts going first-to-third on Adam LaRoche’s single up the middle. Ryan Zimmerman hustled to prevent a double play and bring the tying run home. Ian Desmond kept the pressure on with a double to left, forcing Bo Porter to intentionally walk Danny Espinosa and load the bases for Sandy Leon. Matt Williams then made a bold move, sending up McLouth to pinch-hit for his catcher. It worked: McLouth lofted the first pitch he saw to left field for the sacrifice fly that gave the Nats the lead.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Though he showed no signs of the shoulder discomfort that landed him on the DL, Gonzalez’s first big-league start in a month was by no means comfortable. He put the leadoff man on base in all five innings he pitched, three of them via walks. He was roughed up for four runs during a laborious top of the fourth. He needed 93 pitches to make it through his five innings of work. Yes, his arm appears to be fine. But the Nationals have to be at least somewhat concerned about his results.

KEY STAT: Nationals infielders have now hit 42 homers this season, second-most in the majors behind the Blue Jays (45).

UP NEXT: It’s arguably the biggest series of the season, at least to this point. The Braves come to town for a 4-game showdown, with first place on the line by Sunday evening. First up it’s Jordan Zimmermann vs. Gavin Floyd in Thursday’s 7:05 p.m. opener.

  1. MicheleS - Jun 18, 2014 at 10:51 PM

    WOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! My gosh that was a LONG game

  2. janebeard - Jun 18, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    I’m so glad Tyler had a good night tonight. Now we get ready for Atlanta!

  3. Section 222 - Jun 18, 2014 at 10:53 PM

    Untuck baby! Take that FP “that a dangerous place to live in a one run game ,everything up” Santangelo.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 18, 2014 at 10:55 PM

      I’m honestly never nervous when sori is out there….

      • adcwonk - Jun 18, 2014 at 10:58 PM

        You do have a pulse, right? Or is it because you prep his appearance with medication? ;-)

        I’m glad to have him, but it never seems easy. Getting to 3-2 and then throwing strike after strike that the batter keeps fouling off . . . . it makes me nervous.

      • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:09 PM

        Ha… I’ve never been nervous with Sori.. I got faith in Sori… He hasn’t given me a reason to doubt him…

      • Section 222 - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:22 PM

        I’m always nervous because when he’s in, that means it’s a close game. But FP’s complaints about pitches that are fouled off are unnecessary, and tonight he got schooled. The very next pitch was a wipeout slider. He battled and he got the save, that’s what counts. Not whether he made pitches that seemed hittable to someone watching from the press box or their couch.

      • Joe Seamhead - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:37 PM

        Deuces, FP, like many on this board, along with Ray Knight, and Randy Knorr just don’t like Rafael Soriano, and no matter what the guy does statistically, no matter his save ratio, they will fault the way he goes about getting the job done.

  4. dcwx61 - Jun 18, 2014 at 10:55 PM

    Our bullpen rusty no more
    Go deep tomorrow Zmnn

  5. Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 18, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    What a great game… Comeback kids came alive… This Astros team is gonna be tough… A lot of talent… But get some rest tonight…

    Cuz the Braves are coming…. Time to take them bammas down!!!!

  6. veejh - Jun 18, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    Hey, we won. Shouldn’t have been that difficult….whatever.

    • adcwonk - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:00 PM

      What makes you say that? Houston’s been playing very well — they had gone 15-7 in their 22 games before coming to DC.

      • Eric - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:17 PM

        Yeah, but “what have you done for me lately?” Lose two in a row, that’s what! Beating twice in a row a team that can lose two in a row is nothing to brag about. Psh.

      • DaveB - Jun 19, 2014 at 7:35 AM

        :-)

  7. Hiram Hover - Jun 18, 2014 at 10:58 PM

    I’ll give them this –

    I didn’t think they could match exactly the same score from last night’s game. I underestimated them.

  8. veejh - Jun 18, 2014 at 10:59 PM

    It’s time to get over this Braves hump, or shut up.

    • Hiram Hover - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:04 PM

      What is this with you, Eeyore impersonation night?

      They beat one of the hottest pitchers in MLB last night.

      They have a nice come from behind victory tonight.

      Enjoy it, already.

  9. Doc - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:21 PM

    Loved the hustle, particularly Zim to 1st, to avoid the DP.

    Unbelievable game!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:25 PM

      The little things were big. Hows about Barrett. How about Clippard. Hows about Soriano. Werth going 1st to 3rd. ALR’s slide to breakup any potential dp. Espi’s bunts. McLouth’s pinch-hit. Rendon and Desi doing it again with the bat. Span with the steals and his RBI hit.

      A team win for sure. Yes there were mistakes but on this night the team picked each other up.

  10. Joe Seamhead - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:23 PM

    I came away from this game feeling okay about Gio. I really think he will be fine. I also have never before been down on Ross Detwiler but I lost a lot of respect for him tonight. He really isn’t coming across that he really cares. His failure to hustle to cover the plate on his wild pitch magnified a crappy attitude, in my opinion.

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:32 PM

      I think he cares but it’s a crappy situation… MW clearly doesn’t trust him (not sure MW is using him correctly but who can realy blame him)… Would have been perfect to end his high note at the end of the 6th but he couldn’t… He got the ground ball of Altuve but credit the batter… Then it seemed as if things blew up…. Thought the passed ball should have been caught but it’s no excuse for Det not covering home..

      Maybe he felt it’s no point to risk himself when he probably won’t be with the team.. Not saying it’s right but I can see him thinking that….

      With that said. I think once Ross O gets back healthy, we will see some type of trade… It’s a shame too as Det Is a flame throwing lefty… But the situation here just isn’t good for anyone…

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:35 PM

      I got really angry watching Bumgarner pitch the other day… Becuz all I was thinking was, Det, how in the world can you not work on developing another pitch last off-season when everyone said directly and indirectly that you can’t get by with throwing 95% fastballs… His health wasn’t the only issue… And he knew this…

    • Mrsb loves the Nats - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:40 PM

      As for Gio… I don’t have anything good or bad to say about him… I will wait for 2/3 more outings… I will say, I was totally disturbed that all 5 Leadoff batters that he faced got on base… 3 via walks…

  11. Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 18, 2014 at 11:26 PM

    Detwiler can’t be a long man unless its true mop up.

  12. therealjohnc - Jun 19, 2014 at 12:05 AM

    Nice win, nice series (and season!) sweep. A tightrope walk, but they made it to the other side.

    Really surprised the pitching low light wasn’t Detwiler. If a man wants to pitch more innings, it would behoove that man to actually be effective when he IS in a game.

  13. edshelton2013 - Jun 19, 2014 at 7:48 AM

    Off topic, but we were 3-for-10 with RISP last night. I assume McLouth’s SF is not counted since it’s not an official AB, kinda like a bases-loaded walk. Is this correct? Seems like he ought to get credit somehow.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 19, 2014 at 8:27 AM

      You would be correct and that actually lowers his OBP but doesn’t affect his BA.

    • Sec 3 My Sofa - Jun 19, 2014 at 9:57 AM

      He does get credit, for a run batted in.

Archives

NL EAST STANDINGS

W L GB MN
WASHINGTON 78 58 -- 18
ATLANTA 72 67 7.5
MIAMI 67 70 11.5
NEW YORK 65 74 14.5
PHILADELPHIA 64 74 15.0
Through Tuesday's early games

UPCOMING SCHEDULE
WED: Nats at Dodgers, 3:10 p.m.
THU: OFF
FRI: Phillies at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
SAT: Phillies at Nats, 4:05 p.m.
SUN: Phillies at Nats, 1:35 p.m.
MON: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
TUE: Braves at Nats, 7:05 p.m.
Full season schedule

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MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.

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