Washington Nationals Rapid Reaction: Complete Team Effort Against Matt Harvey Earns Nats Win 7-2


The Washington Nationals beat the New York Mets 7-2 in a complete team victory featuring good pitching, great defense, and good offense to open their three-game set on Monday night.

Gio Gonzalez got the start for the Nats and ended up the night with a quality start although he was fighting himself all night and the Nats gloves picked him up a bit. Gonzalez has been inconsistent this year with some great outings followed by some disastrous outings. He hasn’t been helped by his high BABIP at .343 and there is a  stark difference between his home starts and road starts.

Monday night was no different. Gio was hit hard, but those hits happened to be right at, or in the case of Michael Taylor close enough, to Nationals’ fielders to get the outs. The key to Gio working is great defense behind him, and he got that in spades last night.

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Yunel Escobar was outstanding at third base all night. He made three great plays to save a few extra-base hits for Gio and helped keep his run total low for the night. Taylor made what could be the play of the year in center field, running down what should have been a two-run double in the top of the fifth to keep the three-run lead. Bryce Harper had a great diving catch in right and Jose Lobaton also got into the act with a nifty play near the camera well by the Mets dugout on a pop up.

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In addition to outstanding defense, the bats came alive tonight for the Nats against an unlikely foe in Matt Harvey. The Nationals continued their string of facing ace pitchers so far after the All-Star break, but this time, they were able to break through and put up a five-spot on Harvey through his seven innings of work.

Danny Espinosa and Bryce Harper were key for the Nats at the top of the order, especially Espinosa’s ability to get on base in front of Harper, which forced the Mets to make a decision. Either they pitch to Bryce or they take their chances in a dangerous situation with two men on and Yunel Escobar and Clint Robinson coming up.

Escobar hurt them in the first with a single and then extended the play during a subsequent pickle to allow Harper to score. Robinson also picked up Danny and Bryce in a similar situation in the third with a massive double off the center-field wall. The Mets took their chances with the lower half of the order and tonight that decision came back to haunt them.

Ian Desmond also had a good night with a two-run homer to put the icing on the cake for this win. More importantly for Desmond, he hit the ball hard each of his four at bats. Desi doesn’t always have to hit a home run to be dangerous, but when he doesn’t put the ball into play by striking out, it can hurt the club. Tonight, Desmond avoided that fate and helped seal the first game of an important series for the Nationals.

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