The Nationals had to find a way to win this game, and Gio Gonzalez’s results were positive in this Nationals big win to even this series 2-2. The Braves Anibal Sanchez looked great to start the game as he only gave up a single to Trea Turner in this one, but exited the game with a 1-0 lead when a slow comebacker off of the bat of Michael Taylor hit Sanchez’s calf. That was all it took for Sanchez to exit the game and the Nationals got 6-runs off of two Braves pitchers who were making their MLB debuts. It should have been a bigger offensive showing by the Nationals who were swinging at 3-0 pitches and playing this like it was a Spring Training game. Luckily enough balls went the Nationals way including contact off of Gio Gonzalez.
They sometimes say it isn’t how you hit it but where you hit it and Gio was saved by defensive positioning and some nifty defense like Adam Eaton throwing out Freddie Freeman at home. The Braves manager could have gone to this “A” bullpen, and he did not which allowed the Nationals to take advantage. Both managers made some very odd decisions. Nationals manager Dave Martinez did not pinch-hit for Gio Gonzalez at the end of the 6th inning with runners on 3rd and 1st base and Gio struck out. Sometimes things work out, and Gonzalez finished 7.0 full innings of 1-run baseball.
The Braves put 23 balls in play and got 6-hits, and whether it was Daniel Murphy diving for a ball or Anthony Rendon hugging the 3rd base line — the Nationals finally seemed to have the Braves figured out. The Braves were also swinging early in counts while putting the ball in play which kept Gio’s pitch count low at 94-pitches.
“I think I have better command when I don’t think,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez was not nibbling a lot today and threw 28 sinkers of which 20 were strikes and the Braves put 9 into play with only one-hit off the sinker. Gio had similar good fortune with the changeup and did his nibbling with his 4-seamer. With this win today, Gio Gonzalez got his second team win for the Nationals in his last 10 starts dating back to early June.
“As far as the win — yes — it’s a good feeling,” Gonzalez said. “It’s really good when the music’s playing on the day you’re pitching. That I take as a positive note and I love it because it’s been a while since I heard some music on my day. So, it’s a good thing.”
Gonzalez had two 9-pitch innings today and only went above 16-pitches in an inning once and that was in the 2nd inning. His pitch efficiency was a tribute to pitching over the plate and inducing a lot of weak contact.
“Hopefully we found something on him and he keeps going,” Martinez said about Gio Gonzalez.
While the Nationals won 6-3, they only had two RISP hits today and still stranded 7 baserunners. Trea Turner was 2-for-3 with a walk and Anthony Rendon and Daniel Murphy also had 2-hits each. Michael Taylor had the Nats only long-ball of the game.