September 16, 2014

Washington Nationals Game 14 Review: Jackson, Gorzelanny roughed up by Astros in series finale

Over the past week, it seemed that the Washington Nationals could not lose. Thursday, that came to a halt as the Houston Astros got on top early agaisnt Edwin Jackson and continued the pounding against the bullpen, eventually defeating the Nats 11-4.

The Nationals had their three-game win streak snapped, but they have won eight out of their last 10 games and lead the National League East with a strong 10-4 record.

An announced crowd of 18,045 saw the home team fall into a hole, hustle back, but fall after the mid-point of the contest on a beautiful night on the banks of the Anacostia River.

Despite nearly rallying all the way back from a shaky first inning by starter Edwin Jackson that almost buried them before even taking their first bat, the Nationals could not hold off the Astros in the sixth inning. The pitching staff for Washington, which had made national headlines during the first few weeks of the season, sporting sub-two ERA, finally had an off-night and got hit hard.

Houston (5-8) pounded 17 hits off Washington pitching and every starter had hit and scored a run.

Jackson (1-1), who had pitched a gem on Saturday afternoon against the Reds, took the loss on the night. He gave up five runs in the first inning – which included three triples by Houston batters – and put Washington in a deep hole early.

Despite the rough first inning, he gathered himself and keep his team in the game, miraculously. Jackson after that frame did not give up any more runs in his outing and retired 14 out of 15 batters at one point.

Despite the rough start, the Nationals found a way to storm back into the contest. Wilson Ramos’s RBI-single scored Washington’s first run off Houston starter, Bud Norris (1-0); thereafter, they made the score 5-4 in the third inning off a three-run homer by Ryan Zimmerman that sailed over the visiting bullpen and hit the façade of the left-field seating area.

It looked as if there might be the potential for another magical game for the Nationals at home; however, that hope would dissipate like pixie dust in the sixth inning.

With Jackson out of the game after his valiant effort, the Houston Astros once again teed off of Washington pitching – this time the victim was be long-reliever Tom Gorzellany. He gave up five runs in the frame and essentially ended any hope of a comeback by the home team.

Gorzellany, on the night, had an inability to make his pitches in two innings of work. The Astros took advantage and made him pay.

The Nationals trailed 5-4 when Gorzleanny entered, but a two-run single by Bud Norris followed by Jose Altuve’s deep two-run double quickly gave the Astros a 9-4 advantage. J.D. Martinez’s RBI-groundout in the frame gave Houston another run, and then they added one more in the seventh inning off a Jason Castro RBI-single.

Norris – who started on the mound for Houston – earned the win. He gave up four runs in six innings of work.

The Washington Nationals finish up their first homestand of the season as they host the Miami Marlins for three games starting on Friday night.

Notes: After a slow start to the season, Ryan Zimmerman is starting to pick it up at the plate. Even though there may be concerns about his recovery from the abdominal issue that affected him last year, his home run yesterday was a bomb, and perhaps shows that he is 100% percent.

I was a bit skeptical of the Edwin Jackson signing. I always knew he was talented, but seemingly could never harness his stuff to take his game to the next level. However, if you look at his Jackson’s last two starts – ok, well, if omit the first inning of Thursday’s game – Jackson can dominate on the mound and go against the best pitchers in the business. We will see how consistent he can be as the season goes along.

Steve Lombardozzi is still swinging a hot bat, going 2-for-5 last night, and hitting .471. Hopefully Davey Johnson can find a way to get his bat in lineup consistently. The kid can hit.

Jayson Werth was pulled out of the game in the sixth inning, and Ian Desmond got the night off.

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