Never a dull moment, eh?
The bullpen’s struggles continued, allowing six runs in four innings, but Adam LaRoche broke out of his slump with two home runs and the Nationals (5-2) beat the White Sox in a thriller, 8-7.
The White Sox struck Gio Gonzalez early, getting a run on a bit of a bizarre play in the first inning: a bases-loaded balk. Jake Peavy cruised early and got out of the first and third on the same overzealousness by Nats hitters. Both Bryce Harper and Gonzalez hit singles, but were thrown out attempting to stretch them into doubles. But in the fourth, Ryan Zimmerman hit a sac fly, scoring Denard Spanand tying the game.
The fifth would be Gonzalez’s last inning. After 99 pitches thanks to his penchant of falling behind in counts, his final line was 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, bringing his season ERA to a sparkling 0.58. Peavy also did well through four, allowing just two hits that did not result in the runner being thrown out. Ian Desmond hit a home run to lead off the bottom of the fifth, giving the Nats a 2-1 advantage, but Peavy was still doing well until he got hit hard in the top of the sixth. After a Paul Konerko tied the score, Jayson Werth and Adam LaRoche two-run homers put the Nationals up 6-2 and knocked Peavy out. The scores put Craig Stammen, who pitched the sixth, in line for the win.
Tyler Clippard allowed a three-run home run in the seventh, putting his season ERA at 6.75, even though he has a 1.00 WHIP. Werth drove in Lombardozzi with a single in the seventh, and LaRoche hit his second homer of the game in the eighth, giving the Nats a three-run lead heading into the ninth. Closer Rafael Soriano was shaky in earning his third save of the year, allowing a two-run home run but allowing the Nationals to escape with a one-run win. As MLB.com’s Bill Ladson observed today, Nats relievers have an 8.44 ERA in 21.1 IP this season. A small sample size is not much to go on, but a concerning early-season trend is not to be ignored.