Natstown has been waiting for a game like this.
Gio Gonzalez pitched like an All-Star, giving the Washington Nationals eight innings of one-hit ball. And the bats finally broke out, with 12 hits and five extra base hits — including homers by Bryce Harper and Danny Espinosa. The result was an 8-1 drubbing of the Cincinnati Reds before 24,748 at chilly Nationals Park.
Gonzalez was, in a word, sublime. He spotted his two-seam fastball all night, keeping Reds hitters off-balance with a wicked curveball. The only hit he allowed was Joey Votto’s opposite field home run in the fourth inning, little more than a blip against his record. Gio struck out seven in the effort to move to 2-1 on the season with a 4.50 ERA.
The bats jumped all over Reds’ starter Bronson Arroyo, starting in the second inning. Ian Desmond hit a one-out single and scored on Espinosa’s double to the wall in right center. Espinosa went to third on Kurt Suzuki’s soft line drive over the shortstop’s head. After a sacrifice by Gonzalez, Espinosa carried home the Nats second run of the game on Denard Span’s infield single to short.
The Nats got right back at it in the third. Harper led off with his eighth home run of the season, a no-doubter to center. Jayson Werth followed with a single to left. Adam LaRoche reached on an error by Votto, and the runners moved up to second and third. Werth scored on a Desmond ground out, which moved LaRoche up to third. Espinosa then yanked an 88-MPH sinker into the Nats bullpen in right field to give the Nats a comfortable six-run lead.
The home team tacked on two more in the eighth inning. With two outs, Suzuki drew a base on balls from reliever Logan Ondrusek. Roger Bernadina, pinch-hitting for Gonzalez, singled to center for his first hit of the season. Span followed with a line drive over center fielder Shin-Soo Choo’s head, clearing the bases with his first triple of the season.
Rafael Soriano, who hadn’t pitched in five days, walked Choo to lead off the ninth, but erased him on a double play and got Votto to ground out to finish the game.
THE GOOD: Danny Espinosa. batting lefty, the switch-hitting second baseman needed a night like that. 2-for-4, homer, double, three RBIs.
THE BAD: Steve Lombardozzi. Inserted in the two-hole (and playing third base) to shake things up a bit, Lombo went 0-for-5 and didn’t make solid contact on anything.
THE UGLY: Adam LaRoche. Another o-fer (0-for-4, K) drops his early average to .159/.243/.317. A career .219 hitter, he can’t wait to see the calendar flip at this point.
THE STATS: 12 hits, 2 BBs, 2 Ks. 4-for-9 with RISP, 6 LOB. No errors, 1 DP.
NEXT GAME: Friday night at 7:05 against the Reds. Jordan Zimmermann (3-1, 2.67) hosts Homer Bailey (1-1, 3.24).