Unfortunately this was a sum of all fears game that started with a changed line-up from the one that worked so well yesterday. The team was hoping they would have a well-rested and aggressive Gio Gonzalez on the mound, but he ended up struggling with long innings and walking 5 batters on his way to giving up 5-runs. Yes, Gio could have been out of the game at 5 2/3 innings with a 2-run deficit but he put on two men with two outs and his manager yanked him then the wheels seemingly came off the bus as Yelich grounded a ball that got under Ryan Zimmerman‘s glove that emptied the bases and ruled a triple instead of an error making the score 6-1.
Yesterday, the Nationals defense was excellent and they did the little things, and tonight the mistakes added up. Gio walked 5-batters of which 4 scored in the game. In the 4th inning, Gio walked the first two batters and they both scored. Every time the Nationals seemed to get something going, they couldn’t take advantage. The Brewers made two early errors which the Nationals couldn’t capitalize on. But this game was mostly about the tone set by Gio Gonzalez.
“Can’t walk people,” Gio Gonzalez said. “Gotta be more aggressive.”
Sometimes the pitcher changes the tone. The energy level the Nats entered the game with seemed to disappear as the pace of play with Gio changed. The innings were long and the walks were difficult to watch.
The only Nationals run tonight scored on a solo home run by Daniel Murphy but that 1-0 lead didn’t last long. The Nationals came out swinging and hustling, but then they seemed to lose energy. The next best situation was two runners on and no outs in the 8th inning and Ryan Zimmerman hit his 3rd groundball of the night and killed any potential of scoring with a tailor-made doubleplay.
There was a bizarre play with Trea Turner where he bunted and did not run. He threw his bat down and helmet down while the ball was in play. Most managers would bench a player for doing that, but with manager Dave Martinez, he has allowed those types of non-hustle plays before as we have seen with a doubleplay ball that Bryce Harper didn’t run out earlier this month.
“It’s a good chance he won’t play tomorrow,” Dave Martinez said about Trea Turner. “It’ll be discussed.”
These are the games the Nationals have to win, and we were critical of playing Zimmerman instead of a hot Matt Adams. Why change what was working well yesterday? The worst part was batting Zimmerman 4th in the batting order where he added to his total of runners left on base with another four tonight. Of course there were others who did not get the job done tonight and that starts with Gio Gonzalez who just was not crisp at all. The Nats batters managed only 5-hits tonight and two of those were from Anthony Rendon.
This was a Brewers lineup that was short key players nursing injuries. Gio did not have to face All-Star Jesus Aguilar, speedster Jonathan Villar or Eric Thames.