While known for their starting pitching this season more than anything else, the Washington Nationals have shown over the past two games that they know a thing or two about hitting as well, dominating the St. Louis Cardinals again on August 31 by the score of 10-0. Gio Gonzalez picked up his 17th win of the year for the Nationals, while Adam Wainwright had his 11th loss.
With six runs scored in only the first three innings, Gio Gonzalez was able to get into a comfort zone early, and it showed in his performance. Gonzalez threw a complete game shutout against the Cardinals, giving up only five hits and walking three to go along with eight strikeouts for the night as well. What I was most impressed with when it came to Gonzalez was his curveball; it is of the best in the National League and perhaps all of Major League Baseball, and they were just dropping off the plate left and right against the Cardinals' hitters all night long, giving them practically no chance at all to get the bat on the ball. It was his best start of the year in my view, and those who think that the Nationals are somehow not going to be very good without Stephen Strasburg in the rotation are overlooking how great of a pitcher Gio Gonzalez is right now.
It is difficult picking an offensive player of the game for the Nationals, but I would have to go with Jayson Werth, who went 3 for 3 with a double and an RBI. He has really gotten into a groove of late at the top of the lineup, with three straight multi-hit games, and while his power numbers are significantly down this year (only four home runs) I don't think it really matters all that much if he can keep hitting the way that he has of late. Werth really fits in well at the top of the lineup, which is strange considering that he would be a cleanup hitter on a lot of other teams, but a lot of credit needs to go to Davey Johnson and the way that he has handled the team this year.
The Washington Nationals will look to make it four wins in a row as Jordan Zimmermann takes the mound against Kyle Lohse on September 1. Zimmermann actually has the lowest ERA in the starting rotation at 2.63, although his 9-8 record on the year would make one think that it would be much higher. He has been a bit shaky over his past three starts, not making it through six innings pitched after going much of the year doing so, and this should be an important game for him to get back on track. Lohse has been fantastic this year with a 14-2 record and should give the Nationals hitters all that they can ask for, although I still like Washington in this one.
Ryan Kekoufski lives near the Nationals' stadium and has been following the team ever since they moved to Washington D.C.
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- Gio Gonzalez
- Washington Nationals
- Jayson Werth