The Nationals’ ace and NL Cy Young contender Gio Gonzalez picked up his 20th win and 200th strikeout today, throwing seven scoreless innings while the offense came alive for ten runs of support as the Nationals (92-59) clobbered the Brewers, 10-4, to reduce their magic number in the NL East to six.
First in the majors to 20 wins, Gonzalez’s feat was a historic one, as he became the first Washington lefthander to win 20 games since 1933, and the first D.C. pitcher to reach 200 strikeouts since Hall-of-Famer Walter Johnson in 1916. Gonzalez figures to receive a lot of attention in the NL Cy Young race, where his main competition is Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, whose ERA is lower than Gonzalez’s (2.66 to 2.84) but who has only 19 wins. Beyond Gonzalez’s feat, there were a few other Nats feats in today’s game. The Nats’ magic number to clinch the division over the Braves fell to six with 11 games to play, bringing ever closer the division title the Nats have fought for all season. This game was also the Nats’ 92nd win, putting them one game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds for the best record in baseball. The final achievement was Adam LaRoche’s 32nd homer of the year, tying his career high set in 2006.
Gio’s seven innings were solid as far as shutout innings go, allowing two unearned runs on just two hits and one walk, with five strikeouts. He left with a 10-2 lead and handed the ball to Michael Gonzalez, who threw a scoreless eighth. Recent call-up Christian Garcia allowed two runs in the ninth on a Tyler Greene home run, but settled down and was able to close the game out. Garcia, a 27-year-old who has had Tommy John surgery twice, finally made his MLB debut this year and has been pitching well, allowing only three earned runs in his eight innings pitched.
On the offensive side, everyone pitched in. LaRoche and Bryce Harper hit RBI doubles in a three-run third inning, while Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond both hit three-run home runs in the six-run fourth. Harper was 2-4 with two runs scored, an RBI, and a walk, while LaRoche was 3-4 with three runs scored and two RBI.
Champ of the Game: Gio, for earning his 20th win and moving a step closer to the Cy Young award.
For the Brewers, Greene was 1-1 with his two-run homer.
Chump of the Game: Kurt Suzuki, who was the only Nats starting position player not to reach base.
Ex-Nat Liván Hernández allowed the Nats to blow the game open, allowing six runs while only recording two outs.
Next Game: Tomorrow in DC against Milwaukee. Gallardo (16-8, 3.59) v. Wang (2-3, 6.92)