Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
It's going to be a chilly night at Nationals Park.
Gio Gonzalez certainly remembers what it's like to pitch in the cold, having been on the mound for Games 1 and 5 of the NLDS last fall. The Miami native, though, might have gotten used to sunshine over the last seven weeks, pitching in Florida both in the Grapefruit League and the World Baseball Classic.
Gonzalez will pair up with Kurt Suzuki behind the plate, as Davey Johnson begins his plan to alternate starting catchers. Otherwise, the rest of the Nationals' lineup is the same as it was on Monday, with this group looking to inflict some pain on Marlins right-hander Kevin Slowey.
Updates to come, so please check back...
MIAMI MARLINS at WASHINGTON NATIONALS
Where: Nationals Park
Gametime: 7:05 p.m. EDT
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), XM 185
Weather: Clear, 48 degrees, Wind 14 mph LF to RF
CF Denard Span
RF Jayson Werth
CF Bryce Harper
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
SS Ian Desmond
2B Danny Espinosa
C Kurt Suzuki
LHP Gio Gonzalez
LF Juan Pierre
2B Donovan Solano
RF Giancarlo Stanton
3B Placido Polanco
CF Justin Ruggiano
C Miguel Olivo
1B Casey Kotchmann
SS Adeiny Hechavarria
RHP Kevin Slowey
HP Eric Cooper
1B Paul Schrieber
2B Chad Fairchild
3B Jeff Kellogg (cc)
7:08 p.m. -- And we're underway on a 45-degree night. Gio Gonzalez starts off Juan Pierre with a fastball for strike one.
7:12 p.m. -- It took Gio all of nine pitches to retire the side on a flyout to right and a pair of groundouts to short. You've got to think his fielders appreciate that on a cold night like this.
7:22 p.m. -- The good news in the bottom of the first: Denard Span drew a six-pitch walk to get things started and Bryce Harper scorched a base hit to center (making him 3-for-5 on the season). Also, Ryan Zimmerman and Adam LaRoche each tagged line drives. The bad news: Both Zimmerman and LaRoche's line drives were hit directly at outfielders, so the Nats came away with nothing out of it all. Scoreless after one.
7:37 p.m. -- Yikes, Kurt Suzuki took a pitch from Slowey off the curly W insignia on his chest. That couldn't have felt good on a night like this. He stayed in, but I imagine that'll be barking all evening. Two scoreless innings in the books here.
7:49 p.m. -- Wait, did we actually just witness a Nats battery throw out a would-be basestealer? Indeed we did. Gio and Suzuki teamed up to nail Pierre trying to steal second to end the top of the third. That would be a nice trend to continue this season. Still 0-0 here.
7:58 p.m. -- Can't blame Span tonight. He's reached base twice and led off the third with a double down the first-base line. But he again was stranded there, with Werth grounding out, Harper striking out (!) on an 88-mph high sinker from Slowey and Zimmerman smoking a ball back up the middle that the right-hander managed to snag and toss to first to end the inning. Scoreless through three.
8:10 p.m. -- On a cold night like this, especially early in the season when pitchers are already well ahead of hitters, it's probably not surprising what we're seeing so far in this game: No offense whatsoever. It's scoreless through four innings as Gonzalez and Slowey mow each lineup down. Gio pulled off an impressive strikeout of Giancarlo Stanton, getting the slugger to hack at a 3-2 curveball in the dirt. But Slowey has been no less impressive, retiring six in a row and completing four innings having surrendered only two hits. First team to score tonight could easily win.
8:20 p.m. -- Gio isn't exactly sharp tonight, but he is getting by with a fantastic curveball and some timely outs. He did just that in the top of the fifth, when with two on and one out he induced a 1-6-3 double play out of Casey Kotchmann (who appeared to pull a hammy as he ran down the first base line and has now been replaced by Greg Dobbs) and then struck out Adeiny Hechavarria on a curveball to end the inning. So it's still scoreless here and the Nats pitching staff hasn't allowed a run yet in 14 innings this season.
8:27 p.m. -- Gio Gonzalez: Home run king. Wait, seriously? Yes, he just clobbered a first-pitch curveball from Slowey into the left-field bleachers to open the bottom of the fifth. That's directly into the wind tonight. It's his second career homer, and this one was far more shocking than his previous one (which sailed over the short fence in Houston last summer). This one also produced the second curtain call in as many games at Nationals Park. Stunning. Nats take a 1-0 lead behind their slugging left-hander.
8:36 p.m. -- Another big K for Gio on a curveball, this time to get Stanton to end the top of the sixth and strand the tying runner at second base. He's got five strikeouts on the night, but he's at 91 pitches through six, and Ryan Mattheus is beginning to warm in the pen. Nats pitchers, meanwhile, have now thrown 15 scoreless innings this season. Not bad.
8:55 p.m. -- Ian Desmond's aggressive approach at the plate pays off for him a lot, but not in this case. With two on, one out and a reliever just in the game for the Marlins, he grounded the first pitch into a 5-4-3 double play to end the bottom of the sixth and kill a potential rally. Gio, meanwhile, is done for the night after six scoreless innings and 91 pitches. So Ryan Mattheus entered for the seventh, gave up a quick single to Polanco but then came up big by getting Ruggiano to ground into a double play and then striking out Olivo. So it remains 1-0 at the stretch.
9:07 p.m. -- The Nats take a 2-0 lead on kind of a bizarre play. Espinosa scored from third on Span's fielder's choice grounder to second. The out was recorded when Roger Bernadina ran over Donovan Solano, preventing Solano from trying to turn a double play. No obstruction was called, though Mike Redmond did come out to argue for a moment. Whatever the case, the Nats will gladly take the insurance run. It's 2-0 as Drew Storen prepares to enter for the eighth.
9:20 p.m. -- That went quite well for Storen, a 1-2-3 eighth. He got some help from Span, who showed off his great range and smart route-taking when he tracked down Hechavarria's drive to the warning track in right-center. But Storen did the rest, striking out Chris Coghlan to end the inning and preserve the 2-0 lead. The Nats are three Rafael Soriano outs away from back-to-back shutout wins to begin the year.
9:25 p.m. -- Harper just missed his third homer of the year by a couple of inches. He settled for a double, not to mention a .500 season average (4-for-8). And he scored moments later on Zimmerman's base hit up the middle. I think we'll be repeating that line a few times this year. So make it 3-0 as Soriano enters for the save situation.
9:40 p.m. -- That's it. Soriano closes out his second save, though he put two guys on and had to face the tying runner at the plate. And the Nats close out their second straight shutout victory, this one by a count of 3-0. They're 2-0 on the young season and boast a staff ERA of 0.00.