Washington Nationals: Gio Gonzalez Propels Nats to Victory

Apr 22, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) pitches during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2016; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) pitches during the first inning against the Minnesota Twins at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Washington Nationals pushed their winning streak to four, due to a strong start by Gio Gonzalez and defeated the Kansas Cty Royals by a score of 2-0.

The Washington Nationals offense picked up where they off during the weekend series against the St. Louis Cardinals. They jumped on Royals’ starter Edinson Volquez in the first inning. Ryan Zimmerman scorched a double to right field that scored Michael Taylor, and Zimmerman came around to score due to an RBI groundout by Daniel Murphy.

In the bottom of the third, Lorenzo Cain provided the Royals with their first hit of the game against  Gonzalez. Gonzalez did walk the next batter in Eric Hosmer, but with Kendrys Morales at the plate, Cain was caught trying to steal third base to end the inning on a good throw by Jose Lobaton.

Three innings later, Murphy hit a two-out double to center for his second hit of the day. The double by Murphy was significant, as it was the 1,000th hit of his career. He ended up finishing the night going 3-for-4 with a RBI.

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Hosmer and Morales hit consecutive singles with one out in the sixth. These were the third and fourth hits respectively that the Royals were able to generate off Gonzalez. However, the left-hander worked out of the jam by retiring Alex Gordon and Salvador Perez to keep the Royals off the board. Gonzalez went six innings, gave up no runs on four hits, walked two, and struck out one on 102 pitches (61 strikes) in the win.

As for Volquez, even though he gave up the two runs in the first inning, he kept the Nats’ offense in check for most of the night. He went 7.2 innings, gave up two runs on seven hits, struck out seven, and walked one on 114 pitches in the loss.

After Gonzalez, Sammy Solis came in relief and retired the Royals in order. Shawn Kelley entered the game in the bottom of the eighth for the Nats and surrendered a leadoff double to Alcides Escobar on the first pitch. But, Kelley responded and struck out Cain looking.

After that out, Washington Nationals’ manager Dusty Baker decided to bring in southpaw Oliver Perez to face Hosmer. Perez fanned the Royals first baseman on three pitches and also struck out Morales to get out of the jam.

Next: Nats Co-Players Of The Week: Ross/Strasburg

In the ninth, the Nats did load the bases against Danny Duffy and tried to add more insurance runs, but Danny Espinosa struck out swing. However, that would not matter. Jonathan Papelbon entered the bottom of the ninth and picked up his ninth save of the season as he retired the Royals in order, including striking out Omar Infante swinging to end the game.

Next Game: The Washington Nationals (18-7) will send Tanner Roark (2-2, 2.03 ERA) to the mound and the Royals (13-12) will counter with Chris Young (1-4, 6.12 ERA) at Kauffman Stadium. You can catch the game on MASN at 8:15 pm ET.