It is only four games into the 2015 season, but the Washington Nationals continue to struggle scoring runs. It is one thing to be dominated by Matt Harvey, like the Nats were on Thursday afternoon, but after the Michael Taylor leadoff home run on Friday, Washington did not pose much of a threat offensively against Jerome Williams.
Yes, Denard Span, Jayson Werth, and Anthony Rendon are all out of the lineup, but seven runs in four games has tof eel very disappointing. Plus, it puts a lot of pressure on this excellent rotation to be perfect with every pitch.
For six innings, Gio Gonzalez was able to get himself out of numerous jams. In the fifth inning, Gonzalez gave up a leadoff double to Andres Blanco, but was able to foil a bunt attempt by Williams and get Ben Revere to line into a 4-6 double play to escape trouble.
Gonzalez had good command of his breaking ball and fastball at times, but the seventh inning was when it all got away from him. The frustrating thing about that inning was Gonzalez had two strikes on Grady Sizemore, Cameron Rupp, and Andres Blanco, but could not find a way to retire either hitter. He walked Sizemore and Rupp and hit Blanco before Xavier Cedeno came into the game.
Gonzalez walked four batters on the night, something he did three times last season. All in all, Gio’s start was encouraging when you consider he only needed 69 pitches to get thru the first six innings and he was able to induce nine ground ball outs, including some in key situations.
The other positive thing to come from this game was Michael Taylor’s performance. Taylor was able to make Williams throw eight pitches to start the game, culminating in a home run to left field. Taylor made good contact in his next at-bat in the third inning, but flew out to Sizemore in left.
In four games, Taylor is hitting .294 with one home run and three RBI’s. Plus, he has recorded at least one hit in each of those games. He is finding ways to get on base. It’s up to the guys behind him to drive him in and take advantage of those scoring opportunities.
It is early in the season, so there is no reason to panic. Gonzalez gave the Nationals a chance to win, which is what the starting pitching will do more often than not this season. However, as bad as Cole Hamels looked on Opening Day, Washington might have a tough time going up against him tonight when you consider in four starts vs. the Nats last year, Hamels gave up nine earned runs. But, he was 0-2 in those games.