After a couple of disappointing losses, the Washington Nationals at least salvaged a series split against the Atlanta Braves. Gio Gonzalez had a fine outing
The left-hander went seven innings, allowing just six hits, one run, and one walk. The three strikeouts were a little low, but when he delivers his second stellar outing in three starts, you take it anyway it comes.
The key to his success was only allowing one runner to reach scoring position all game, on a Freddie Freeman double. Aside from that, when runners did reach, he was able to knuckle down and record groundball outs.
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The long ball continues to be his Kryptonite of late though, allowing a home run to Nick Markakis. Thankfully, it was only a solo shot in the second inning for the Braves lone run of the game.
Next up for Gio Gonzalez will be a tough assignment against the St Louis Cardinals. He doesn’t have to be as good as he was on Thursday, but if he can keep his team in the game, the Nationals will take it from the lefty.
Harper a late scratch from the lineup
After being named in the lineup initially, outfielder Bryce Harper was removed a couple of hours before first pitch. Manager Davey Martinez said that Harper was still feeling the effect of the HBP last night.
It was reported that Harper was available to pinch hit though, so it was probably just a precautionary measure. But nevertheless, it was a slight scare given he stayed in the game after the HBP on Wednesday night.
We’ve seen a few times this season that the Nationals have downplayed injuries, especially a couple from the being hit by a pitch. While it’s unlikely this incident in the same, given he was hit higher up than Matt Adams and Anthony Rendon, it may be worth keeping an eye on.
Madson has an adventure in first outing as fill-in closer.
With the news of Kelvin Herrera hitting the DL with Ryan Madson was declared the temporary closer. He was spotted a four-run lead but allowed one run to score in a less than convincing outing.
He allowed back-to-back singles to start off the ninth before getting three straight outs which included a sac fly. With that much of a lead, we can give him a bye on this one, especially given he’s pitched of late.
In his previous 11 outings, he’d only allowed a run once, with a total of five hits and two walks, compared to nine strikeouts. Until Herrera or Sean Doolittle returns, expect Madson to be the man in the ninth.
Now the Washington Nationals start a seven-game road trip where they face the Chicago Cubs and Cardinals. They need to prove they can beat the good teams if they’re to climb back into the playoff hunt.