Thus far this year, Gio Gonzalez has been excellent in his own right but often overshadowed by his high-profile rotation mates: Stephen Strasburg and Jordan Zimmermann. Tonight, he outdueled Cliff Lee and showed why he finished third in the Cy Young voting last season. After the Nats only scratched out one run in sixteen innings against lefties John Lannan and Cole Hamels, they managed nine hits in seven innings, including FOUR solo homers, against Lee. Curiously enough, Lee is the best of the bunch, being named an All-Star and having an ERA at least a run and a half lower than the other two. Like I’ve said, the Nats are inconsistent, but the upside of that is that sometimes you beat up on All-Stars. The Nats are back within five games of Atlanta, and with Jordan Zimmermann pitching tomorrow against Kyle Kendrick (finally a righty), this series is suddenly looking up.
Most Important Nationals Hit: Anthony Rendon‘s solo homer (+14.8%)
Rendon has found his power stroke of late. He took Lee deep to open the fifth inning, marking his fourth home run of the season and his career. His shot broke a scoreless tie, and seemingly opened the floodgates for the Nats. Wilson Ramos homered right after him for back to back jacks, and Jayson Werth and Ryan Zimmerman had their own back-to-back solo home runs in the sixth inning to put the Nats up 4-0. Teams have only had back-to-back home runs in back-to-back innings 14 times in the past 63 years.
Most Important Nationals Pitch: Ben Revere‘s ground into double play (+11.3%)
The Phillies threatened Gio in the third inning, but he quickly defused their threat. A Carlos Ruiz single and an Ian Desmond error on a Cliff Lee grounder put runners on first and second with no outs. Gio buckled down in the face of danger and got a double-play grounder from Revere, which is not an easy feat given his great speed. Then, with two outs and a runner on third, Gio induced a flyout from Jimmy Rollins to escape the inning.
Champ of the Game: Gio (+24.5%) was, simply put, stellar. He allowed just one run, a solo homer to Darin Ruf, on six hits and two walks while striking out five. He has now won four straight starts. Ruf (+8.2%) was 1-3 with his home run and a walk, driving in and scoring the only Philadelphia run of the night.
Chump of the Game: Adam LaRoche (-7.6%) was 0-4, and now just one for his last 11, but is coming off a stretch where he was 5-11. He is famously inconsistent: ice cold at times, scorching hot at others. He may be the only player less consistent than the Nats. Revere (-20.8%) was 1-4, but grounded into that fateful double play I mentioned above. He singled to open the bottom of the first and did not reach base afterwards.