The Nationals bats, as the kids would say, “went ham” in last night’s game against the Cubs. On a night where the local Orioles moved into first place for the first time since, well, Opening Day, the Nationals decided to make a statement and remind the nation that they’re still the dominant Beltway team.
Edwin Jackson took the mound for the Nats, looking to pull his record back to an even 9-9, and certainly performed well enough to do so. Coming off two of his most dominant starts of the season, Jackson was able to contain the Cubs early last night; shutting them out through the first three innings. Though Jackson would finally give in in the fourth inning, he would still make it into the dugout with an 8-1 lead after five.
Despite a strong showing by Jackson, it would be the offense getting all the headlines after the game, as the lineup went 6-8 collectively in the first inning. This would result in starter Chris Rusin being chased from the ballgame with no outs in the second inning, turning it over to rookie Jaye Chapman. Dale Sveum going to his bullpen would become a recurring theme throughout the ballgame, as the Cubs trotted out seven total pitchers by the end of the contest.
After Christian Garcia got the Nats out of the fifth inning with the lead, Tom Gorzelanny would come on to pitch the seventh inning with a 9-4 lead, and would make things interesting. Over the course of the first five batters Gorzelanny faced, three reached base via the free pass, loading the bases with two out for rookie Anthony Rizzo. Luckily, Rizzo would go down swinging, and there would be no more significant comeback chances from there on out. However, it was one of the worst shutout innings (if not the worst) of Gorzo’s career.
The Nationals would pad their security blanket in the seventh and eighth innings, as an RBI-single by Jayson Werth and a home run by Adam LaRoche would propel the Nats to an 11-5 lead (the fifth run coming off Ryan Mattheus in the eighth).
Michael Gonzalez would close things out in the ninth, going 1-2-3 against pinch hitter Anthony Recker, Josh Vitters and DeJesus to seal the 11-5 Curly W.
Champ of the Game: Can you go wrong? Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond or Adam LaRoche could take the award tonight, so they all will! Everyone’s a winner here at District on Deck. Werth collected four hits out of the leadoff spot, Desmond hit one over the fence and collected four RBIs, and LaRoche also collected four hits with two RBIs. So much has been made of this stellar Nationals pitching staff, but hey, these boys can swing the bats!
For the Cubs, Alfonso Soriano went 2-4 with 3 RBIs, doing his part to try and steal a victory from the Nats.
Chump of the Game: Even though it’s hard to dump on someone after an 11-5 victory, Tom Gorzelanny walked three batters in one inning. You don’t get away with that in the playoffs, and Gorzelanny has to get it together.
For the Cubs, this is a widespread award that we’ll just place in the visiting dugout. Various players can take turns taking pictures with it.
Unsung Hero: Ryan Zimmerman and Jesus Flores split the hardware, each hitting one of the six home runs that the Nationals hit last night.
For the Cubs, we’ll go with Starlin Castro, as he came in second in the “Champ of the Game” voting for the Cubs. Castro went 2-4 with two RBIs.
Next Game: Tonight against the Cubbies! The Nats will look to secure a series victory and build on their franchise record in wins, which they set on Monday (82). Probables: Justin Germano (2-5, 5.52 ERA) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (9-8, 3.01 ERA).