December 8, 2019

Washington Nationals Game 133 Review: Gio, homers pace 9-0 win over Marlins to complete sweep

They still have quite a bit of work to do, but it’s starting to look like the Washington Nationals might actually make a run at the final wild card spot.

In defeating the Miami Marlins 9-0, sweeping the bottom feeders of the N.L. East, the Nats have now won eight of their last nine games and 14 of their last 19 to raise their record to three games over .500 and cut their deficit in the wild card race behind idle Cincinnati to 6 1/2 games with one game still in hand over the Reds.

Scoring nine runs, including three home runs, might make it easy to overlook the masterful work starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez put in. The lefty went seven scoreless, allowing just three hits and three walks, striking out eight along the way. The first couple of innings were his toughest, needing 43 pitches to record six outs, while allowing all three walks and two hits. But Gonzalez (W, 8-6, 3.56) was resilient, gutting out the first couple frames to cruise through the next five without incident.

The Nats offense broke out in the fourth inning against Marlins starter Tom Koehler (L, 3-9, 4.72). Ryan Zimmerman (3-for-3, two runs) drew a lead-off walk before Bryce Harper’s 19th home run of the season, which came on a first-pitch changeup.

They broke things open in the sixth. Zimmerman led off with a single and went to second on Harper’s walk. Jayson Werth then continued his assault on N.L. pitchers, crushing his 21st home run of the season to make it 5-0. The Nats tacked on another later in the inning. Ian Desmond singled and Adam LaRoche walked. After Wilson Ramos flew out to deep right, Anthony Rendon came through with a ground ball through the left side to score Desmond easily.

Desmond capped the scoring in the bottom of the seventh, smacking his 20th home run of the year on a 1-2 changeup, a three-run shot that sealed the deal.

Tanner Roark relieved Gonzalez in the eighth and the rookie gave another strong outing, retiring six of the seven batters he faced, allowing one hit and throwing 12 of this 13 pitches for strikes.

THE GOOD: POWER! When your 2-5 hitters combine to go 10-for-14 with three home runs you’ve got a pretty good chance to win that game. Also, props to Gio for figuring out what troubled him in the first two innings and dominate the rest of the game.

Also: Denard Span singled to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. In the Nats’ last 19 games, in which they’ve won 14, Span has hit .333/.390/.467. Coincidence? I think not.

THE BAD: Wilson Ramos went o-for-4.

THE UGLY: Adam LaRoche. 0-for-3 with a walk, lowers his slash to .237/.336/.476. Just kind of a lost year for a guy who had his career year just last season.

THE STATS: 12 hits, 4 BBs, 2 Ks. 4-for-9 with RISP, 3 LOB. No errors, no DPs.

NEXT GAME: Friday at 7:05 pm against the New York Mets. Jordan Zimmermann (15-7, 3.32) hosts Dillin Gee (9-9, 3.69).

About Dave Nichols

Dave Nichols is Editor-in-Chief of District Sports Page. He is credentialed to cover the Washington Nationals, Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. Dave also covers national college football and basketball and Major League Soccer for Associated Press and is a copy editor for the Spokesman-Review newspaper in Spokane, WA. He spent four years in radio covering the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Redskins and the University of Maryland football and basketball teams. Dave is a life-long D.C. sports fan and attended his first pro game in 1974 — the Caps’ second game in existence. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveNicholsDSP

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