The Washington Nationals have had a recent trend of wasting strong starts by left hander Gio Gonzalez. Saturday was no different. After Gio went six strong innings of three run ball with seven strikeouts, Craig Stammen gave up the go-ahead single to Twins right fielder Ryan Doumit in the 11th inning, and the Nationals fell 4-3.
While Gio’s Saturday performance was not perfect, it should have been good enough to earn his fourth victory of the year. After an Adam LaRoche error led to a pair of unearned runs in the fourth inning, Gio was able to escape a two on, one out jam by striking out Pedro Florimon and Twins right hander Kevin Correia. Gio gave up a solo home run to Joe Mauer in the 5th inning, the 100th of Mauer’s career, but gave up nothing else to the twins. His final line was six inning with two earned runs, four walks, and seven strikeouts. However, the Nationals were unable to get him a win, despite the quality start.
The Nationals offense also continued a recent trend of mediocrity, bearing little resemblance to the lineup that was clicking on all cylinders at this point last year. Jayson Werth gave the Nationals a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning with a two run bomb off Kevin Correia, but the Nationals were unable to get anything else going until a misplayed infield double by Kurt Suzuki led to a tie game. Kevin Correia, a middle of the pack starter, had his way with Washington, taunting the lineup with changeups just out of the strike zone and a power sinker the Nationals were only able to beat into the ground.
After Fernando Abad, Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard, Rafael Soriano, Erik Davis, and Ian Krol combined to pitch four scoreless innings of relief, Craig Stammen entered the game and gave up a base hit to senter field by Ryan Doumit that scored Chris Herrmann from second. Minnesota closer pitched a scoreless bottom of the inning to secure his 13th save of the year and drop Washington to 29-31.
The teams will wrap up the series Sunday afternoon with a twin bill. In the first game, Jordan Zimmermann(8-3,2.16) will oppose Twins’ lefty ace Scott Diamond(4-4, 4.66) in search for his ninth victory off the year. Nathan Karns(0-1,6.00) will attempt to get his first major league victory with a quality start of the nightcap against Twins righty Samuel Deduno(2-1,3.44). First pitches are 1:05 and 7:05.