After being shut down by Matt Harvey Friday night, the Nats offense used the long ball to down the Mets Saturday afternoon. The team, led by Bryce Harper, was able to overcome a rough and inconsistent start by Gio Gonzalez and beat a streaky New York team. A strong effort by the bullpen also helped the Nats capture their 10th win of the season and move to 10-7.
The offense was entirely reliant on homers on Saturday afternoon, as the team hit a season high 4 round-trippers. The team got started early in the 2nd inning when Ian Desmond ambushed Jeremy Hefner‘s (0-3) first pitch fastball and punished it over the left field wall. Harper gave Gio Gonzalez a three run lead to work with in the third with a two run homer into the Mets’ bullpen. After Gio Gonzalez’s rough five run fourth inning, Adam LaRoche helped reclaim the lead with a three-run blast to left center. Ryan Mattheus gave up a game tying double to John Buckin the 7th inning (Buck’s NL Leading 21st RBI), but Bryce Harper gave the Nationals the lead with his 2nd homer of the day in the 7th inning.
The bullpen performed admirably after Gio Gonzalez was knocked out after only 4 innings. Craig Stammen came in in the 5th inning and struck out 5 batters over 2 innings. Ryan Mattheus entered in the seventh and allowed the tying run to score, but then Tyler Clippard(1-0) was dominant in the 8th inning. Rafael Soriano earned his 6th save in the ninth. After a rough outing for Drew Storen friday night, it was good to see his ‘pen-mates go out and pitch well.
There are some concerns that emerged from the victories. Gio did not look sharp at all during the game, especially during a 4th inning that saw him walk 3 batters, allow 5 earned runs, and throw 41 pitches. After a 2012 season that saw him become more agressive and show better control of his filthy pitches, Gio is starting to look more and more like his former Oakland self. Gonzalez needs to revert back to last years form if the Nats intend to capture their 2nd straight NL East crown. While it was also nice to see the firepower from the offense, it was concerning that the team didn’t hit any singles. They had seven hits (4 homers, 3 doubles) and walked 5 times, but the offense can’t continue to rely only on the longball. The team also put 3rd baseman and cleanup hitter Ryan Zimmerman on the 15 day DL with a hamstring issue and called up 3B Anthony Rendon from Triple-A.