Gio entered Tuesday’s start against the Diamondbacks winless in his last seven starts. Five days later, he has two more wins to his record. Today he was simply dominant against the New York Mets. But Gonzalez wasn’t the only story of Saturday’s game, pounding the New York pitching staff for 13 runs on 13 hits.
Awaiting the return of Bryce Harper on Monday, the Nats got started early against rookie right hander Zach Wheeler(1-1). After Wheeler fired a scoreless first inning, the offense got to him in the second inning. Adam LaRoche homered to right center to lead off the frame, and after the right hander issued a free pass to Jayson Werth, Ian Desmond walloped a line drive double to right field to score another. Two more runs would score later on a Kurt Suzuki single and a Denard Span double. Jayson Werth homered to lead off the third inning, but that was the last run Wheeler would allow in four and two thirds innings. The offense would go quiet until the eighth inning, where the Nats scored six runs off of the Met bullpen, highlighted by a Kurt Suzuki homer off of Brandon Lyon to put the game out of reach. Ian Desmond added two runs in the ninth with his 15th homer of the year.
On the mound, Gio Gonzalez(5-3) was completely masterful. Allowing only three hits, he threw seven shutout innings with seven strikeouts to earn his second straight victory. He never got into a serious jam on the mound and appeared to be completely in the zone, continuing his recent trend of carving up lineups. He had every pitch working, and was excellent in keeping Mets hitters behind his consistent 94 mph fastball and his big curveball. Saturday’s outing lowered his ERA to a sterling 3.09. While Gio has nowhere near the wins total he had last July 1st, he and Nats fans everywhere hope that he can get consistent offensive support.
The Nationals will get a huge boost Monday night when Bryce Harper will return from the DL after missing the entirety of June with a left knee injury. Harper, who was leading the team in almost every offensive stat before his injury will be joining the lineup at a point when everyone else seems to be getting hot. At the midpoint mark of the season, Washington is 41-40 and has played the last nearly 30 games without its #3 hitter. Watch out National League, the 2012 Nats might be back. On Monday, Jordan Zimmermann(11-3) will return home to face off against the Milwaukee Brewers and 28 year old right hander Yovani Gallardo(6-7). Zimmermann looks to continue his strong season and boost the likelihood that he will start the All Star Game for the National League. First Pitch is at 7:05.