There is that old saying that no lead is safe, and Dusty Baker gave Gio Gonzalez some rope, and he almost hung himself. Gio was nails for the first 6 inning, and then hit the wall quickly and loaded the bases with a 5-1 lead. Dusty Baker brought in Felipe Rivero as his relief pitcher as a strategic choice as he had the righty Shawn Kelley warming also which did not give Terry Collins beforehand a clue to who would relieve Gio.
Dusty knew Collins’ bench was mostly key lefty bats (Conforto, DeAza, Duda) plus his backup catcher and a weak hitting righty named Reynolds. Collins inserted the righty Reynolds as a pinch-hitter and Felipe Rivero got a comebacker for the 2nd out of the inning throwing home for the force play and no run scored, and then Terry Collins went to Michael Conforto with 2 outs and bases loaded as his pinch-hitter and Conforto who is in the upper 1oo’s in batting average against lefties grounded to 1st and as Rivero covered 1st base to cover the relay toss from Ryan Zimmerman, Rivero stomped on that bag for the 3rd out in the 7th. Any potential comeback from the Mets was snuffed out there with no runs scoring from a bases loaded situation.
The Nats were gifted 11 walks and 2 HBPs where there were baserunners all night to go with 8 hits, and the scoring finished at 7-1 after a 9th inning 2 run single by Wilson Ramos to put the final stamp on the evening.
There was plenty of in-game chatter and most TalkNats fans had that feeling that Gio was once again going to hit that proverbial wall and run out of gas, but by the time Dusty pulled Gio the bases were jammed. In the top of the 7th, there were some questions on pinch-hitting for Lobaton (.195 BA) who struck out to end the 7th and Dusty pulled him anyway in a double-switch. The checkers and chess analogies were brought up once again, and Dusty had his chess set ready when it came to choosing who would replace Gio in that bases loaded jam when he signaled for his lefty Rivero.
The final score of 7-1 doesn’t tell the full story as the Mets defense made 2 Web Gems robbing Daniel Murphy twice with 2 men on base each time. Eric Campbell made a diving stab to stop a hard grounder ticketed for the rightfield corner as Campbell dove into foul territory and threw Murphy out, and in ‘Willie Mays‘ style Juan Lagares caught a deep flyball off Murphy’s bat that he caught just short of the warning track over his left shoulder with his back to the infield.
The Nats go into tomorrow 1 1/2 games up on the Mets atop the NL East.
Rivero stomped on the Mets last night.https://t.co/exd3S1Qikl
— TALK NATS Blog (@TalkNats2) May 19, 2016
Danny Espinosa had one of the biggest at-bats of the evening where he drew a bases loaded walk, and reliever Logan Verrett went to the scouting report in a 1-1 count and threw a high fastball out of the zone that Danny did not chase. It was one of those moments where we have seen a less disciplined Espinosa go after. Instead of a 1-2 count, Espi went ahead 2-1 and worked a bases loaded RBI walk to bring the score from 4-1 to 5-1.