Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Gio Gonzalez again seeks his 17th win tonight at Nationals Park.
On a team level, the Nationals could notch win No. 80 tonight. That would match last year's total, fall just one shy of the club record (set in the inaugural 2005 season) and just two shy of the first winning record by a D.C. ballclub since 1969.
But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves and look past tonight's game, which features a star-studded pitching matchup between Gonzalez and Adam Wainwright. Davey Johnson goes with his regular lineup, the only change from last night behind the plate (Kurt Suzuki starts).
Plenty of updates to come, so please check back...
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 183
Weather: Clear, 90 degrees, Wind 8 mph out to RF
RF Jayson Werth
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
LF Michael Morse
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
LHP Gio Gonzalez
CF Jon Jay
RF Carlos Beltran
LF Matt Holliday
1B Allen Craig
C Yadier Molina
3B David Freese
2B Skip Schumaker
SS Pete Kozma
RHP Adam Wainwright
HP Mike Muchlinski
1B Wally Bell
2B Mike Winters (cc)
3B Mark Wegner
7:07 p.m. -- We are underway with a ball from Gio Gonzalez to Jon Jay. It's a steamy 94 degrees on the final night of August.
7:11 p.m. -- Gonzalez retires the side on three groundballs, though he wasn't exactly exhibiting pinpoint command. He fell behind Jay 3-0 before getting him to tap a comebacker. All told, Gio threw only seven of his 13 pitches for strikes.
7:26 p.m. -- Hey, what do you know? Jayson Werth led off the bottom of the first by drawing a walk, then Bryce Harper followed with a sharp single to right. The Nats' 1-2 punch strikes again. And they both came around to score on Adam LaRoche's RBI single to left, putting the Nats up 2-0 after one strong inning.
7:41 p.m. -- Now Werth just misses his second homer in as many nights by inches. He settles for a two-out double off the right-field fence. Nothing else happening in the second inning. The Nats still lead 2-0.
7:50 p.m. -- I don't know if I'd call Gio's stuff so far tonight dominant, but he has retired all nine batters he's faced. Can't complain about that.
8:18 p.m. -- Sweet Fancy Moses, what a beatdown the Nationals of Wainwright tonight. They knocked the right-hander out after only 2 2/3 innings, racking up six runs on nine hits and two walks, forcing him to throw an astounding 86 pitches. Great at-bats in the bottom of the third from Desmond, Espinosa, Suzuki and Werth, who all singled home runs. After Wainwright walked Harper to load the bases, Mike Matheny came out with the hook and threw Trevor Rosenthal to the wolves, with Ryan Zimmerman at the plate. Zim went right after Rosenthal's first pitch and sent it flying 355 feet to left field ... but just short of the fence and a potential grand slam that would've ignited an eruption in the stands here. Even so, the Nats lead 6-0 after three innings and have outscored the Cardinals 14-1 in the first 12 innings of this series.
8:31 p.m. -- A couple of walks to lead off the fourth inning -- not what you want to do when handed a 6-0 lead -- but Gio still hasn't surrendered a hit.
8:55 p.m. -- There's the first hit of the night for the Cardinals. Yadier Molina leads off the fifth with a double to left, so there goes that shot at history. No matter, because Gio has still completed five shutout innings.
9:05 p.m. -- And now the Nats take an 8-0 lead thanks to Harper's two-out, two-run single. He's got eight RBI over his last 2+ games. Werth, meanwhile, has reached base in 11 of his last 14 plate appearances. Stunning.
9:15 p.m. -- Six innings in the books. It's still 8-0.
9:29 p.m. -- Tonight's paid attendance: 29,499. Pretty energetic crowd.
9:38 p.m. -- And Gio continues to dominate. He just recorded his seventh strikeout of the night on his 99th pitch. He's through eight scoreless innings. Any chance Davey lets him go for the complete game? There's no action in the pen yet. We shall see. Still 8-0 Nats.
9:51 p.m. -- It's been a while since I had the chance to type this: Barkeep, a round of cortisone shots for me and all my friends! Ryan Zimmerman puts a definitive stamp on this one with a two-run shot to right. It's 10-0 in the bottom of the eighth.
9:56 p.m. -- And here comes Gio in search of the complete game. He gets a standing O from the crowd as he takes the mound for the ninth.
10:05 p.m. -- Ballgame. Gio gets his first career shutout, a 119-pitch masterpiece. The Nats get a 10-0 victory. And they get their 80th win of the season, matching last season's total, with a month still to play.