November 25, 2020

Washington Nationals Game 91 Review: Nats’ four solo shots do in Lee, Phils

The Washington Nationals have struggled this season against left-handed pitching, but Wednesday in Philadelphia, they reached Phillies starter Cliff Lee for four solo home runs en route to a 5-1, snapping a two-game skid in the City of Brotherly Love.

Coupled with the Atlanta Braves 6-2 loss earlier in the day to the Florida Marlins, the Nats (47-44) cut the lead in the N.L. East back to five games.

The home run production made a winner of Gio Gonzalez, who runs his record to 7-3 with a 3.03 ERA for the season. Over his last 13 starts, Gonzalez has an ERA of 2.18 and batting average against under .200.

Gonzalez and Lee traded zeroes until the top of the fifth inning. Anthony Rendon led the off the inning and got behind 0-2 after a couple of called strikes and a foul ball. Lee tried to run another two-seam fastball in on Rendon but the rookie infielder got his hands out quick enough to yank it into the first row of bleachers in left field, hitting an unsuspecting fan in the head with the line drive homer, his fourth of the season.

The next batter, Wilson Ramos, clobbered a Lee two-seamer to the opposite field (4) to give the Nats a 2-0 lead.

The Nats went back-to-back again against Lee in the sixth. Ryan Zimmerman smacked his 11th homer of the season, drilling an 0-2 fastball over the center field fence. Jayson Werth followed with his 10th of the campaign on the first pitch of the at bat, an 87-MPH cutter that got too much of the plate.

Gonzalez cruised until the seventh inning, when after two outs he surrendered Darin Ruf’s first homer of the season. Gio then gave up two base hits before getting Ben Revere to fly out to end the frame with no more damage. For the night, Gonzalez allowed just the one run on six hits and two walks, striking out five.

Washington added an insurance run in the ninth inning. Rendon doubled off reliever Justin De Fratus and scored when Denard Span reached on a throwing error by pitcher Jake Diekman, who had replaced De Fratus two batters earlier.

Tyler Clippard threw an uneventful eighth inning and Rafael Soriano a perfect ninth inning to secure the victory.

THE GOOD: The Nats finally broke the cycle of near-perfect starts by lefties against them. Desmond, Werth, Rendon and Ramos — all right-handed batters — all had two hits.

THE BAD: Despite his home run, Zimmerman went 1-for-5 with four strikeouts and four LOB.

THE UGLY: The Nats lefties, as they have been all season, were horrible against the lefty Lee. Span, Harper and LaRoche combined to go 1-for-14 with 11 men stranded individually.

THE STATS: 10 hits, 2 BBs, 9 Ks. 0-for-9 with RISP, 8 LOB. E: Desmond (11, catch); two DPs.

NEXT GAME: Thursday at 7:05 pm ET against the Phillies at CBP. Jordan Zimmermann (12-3, 2.57) faces Kyle Kendrick (7-6, 3.90).

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

%d bloggers like this: