July 29, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 136 Review: Gio sparkles, offense shines in 9-1 win over Cubs

NATS HIT SIX HOMERS FOR SECOND STRAIGHT NIGHT

It’s not supposed to be this easy.

For the second straight night, the Washington Nationals took batting practice during the game, tying the team record for home runs in a home game set just 24 hours earlier, en route to a 9-1 win over the Chicago Cubs, before a lively crowd of 21,244 at Nationals Park.

The Nats (84-52) maintained their 7 1/2 game lead over the Atlanta Braves. The Braves beat the Colorado Rockies 1-0 behind Mike Minor’s exceptional start.

The offense made a winner of Gio Gonzalez, who had a no-hitter through five innings. He ended up going seven innings, allowing just three hits, walking none and striking out nine along thee way. He carved up the young Cubs hitters in a manner that almost wasn’t fair. Gonzalez (W, 18-7, 2.98) didn’t allow multiple runners in an inning until two outs in the seventh, when Starlin Castro singled, followed by a Wellington Castillo double.

After a visit by pitching coach Steve McCatty, Gonzalez got Josh Vitters reaching for a curveball to end the inning and his evening.

Gonzalez’ 18th win of the season keeps pace with R.A. Dickey of the New York Mets — who beat the Cardinals Wednesday night – atop the N.L.’s pitching wins leaderboard.

But again, the Nats offense was the big story. The Nats got home runs from Roger Bernadina (4), Adam LaRoche (28), Ian Desmond (21), Danny Espinosa (16) and two from 19-year-old Bryce Harper, who passed Ken Griffey, Jr. on the list of single season home runs by a teenager with his 16th and 17th bombs. Only Tony Conigliaro (24) and Mel Ott (19) are higher on the list.

Washington hit back-to-back homers on back-to-back pitches twice in the game.

The Nats didn’t quite match their team total of 19 base hits from Wednesday, but they did pound out 13 hits to go along with eight walks by Cubs pitchers. Four Nats had multi-hit games.

THE TAKEAWAY: What to say after destroying the Cubs pitching for the second straight night. You almost have to grade these performances on a curve. Nats fans will take it though, after all the abuse they’ve had to withstand in the last few years. Of course, Cubs fans have almost 100 years of experience dealing with nights like last night.

THE GOOD: Gio. He didn’t really give up a hard-hit ball all night. This collection of rookies, journeymen and misfits the Cubs are trotting out there right now didn’t stand a chance.

THE BAD: Um, Gio didn’t get a hit? He was the only Nats’ starter that didn’t.

THE UGLY: Seriously, Cubs. Three of the five pitchers they threw out there last night had ERAs over 6.00. It’s like they’ve already given up.

THE STATS: 13 hits, 8 BBs, 7 Ks. 1-for-10 with RISP, 11 LOB, 1 GIDP. E: Desmond (14), no DPs.

NEXT GAME: Thursday at 7:05 against the Cubs. Jordan Zimmermann (9-8, 3.01) hosts Justin Germano (2-5, 6.30).

%d bloggers like this: