Yes, you read that title correctly. The Nationals won a 5-0 game on a 113-pitch 8 1/3 inning gem from Gio Gonzalez and mathematically there was a save opportunity per MLB rules on a one-pitch groundball out. With the bases empty, Matt Albers gave up 2 bloop hits and a swinging bunt and with 2 outs and the bases loaded Dusty Baker brought in his bullpen ace, Matt Grace, to record the final out for a one-pitch save.
In the Opening Day for the second half of the MLB season, Bryce Harper crushed 2 long home runs and 3 RBIs to lead the offense.
“I want to stay in the lineup,” Bryce Harper said. “Every single day I’m in there — I can do something. Do damage. If I’m not in there, I possibly could have got a ribbie or hit a homer or something like that. If I had the day off today, I wouldn’t have hit the two homers that I wanted to hit.”
Dusty Baker rested Daniel Murphy today who along with Harper and Zimmerman started the All-Star game. The All-Star snub Anthony Rendon started hot just like he was before the All-Star break and raised his OBP to .411. Matt Wieters had 2 key hits in the game, and his days off this week seemed to give him back some strength in his legs.
Every position player except Ryan Zimmerman and Chris Heisey had hits. Zimmerman who was the hottest hitter in baseball for the first 45 days of the season is one of the coldest in the game this month batting .192 with just one RBI batting 4th in the Nationals order. Ray Knight was in the MASN booth for the game and thought Zimmerman was pulling off some balls which we have noted especially in RISP spots where Zim’s head drifts off the ball.
Baker once again penciled Wilmer Difo into the starting line-up at shortstop, and Difo singled in front of Harper’s first home run while also playing solid infield defense. The Nationals are now 19-5 when Difo starts.
It was a team win in all facets of the game, and Matt Albers pitched well and was bit by weak contact that found green grass. The game ended on a nifty defensive play by Stephen Drew who dove to his left to snag a grounder ticketed for rightfield.
The Nationals have tied their season-high going 17 games above .500 with this win improving to 53-36.