|Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER|
Help is on the way, with Bryce Harper due to come off the DL tomorrow for the start of a seven-game homestand. Today, the Nationals will have to try to generate some offense against another young Mets phenom: Zack Wheeler. The rookie right-hander actually arrived in New York with a higher ceiling than Matt Harvey, though obviously Harvey's results at the big-league level have been out of this world.
Gio Gonzalez starts for the Nationals, trying to get his team back over the .500 mark before heading home. Updates to come...
WASHINGTON NATIONALS at NEW YORK METS
Where: Citi Field
Gametime: 1:10 p.m. EDT
TV: MASN2, MLB.tv
Radio: WJFK (106.7 FM), WFED (1500 AM), XM 89
Weather: Mostly cloudy, 80 degrees, Wind 10 mph out to LF
CF Denard Span
2B Anthony Rendon
3B Ryan Zimmerman
1B Adam LaRoche
RF Jayson Werth
SS Ian Desmond
LF Roger Bernadina
C Kurt Suzuki
LHP Gio Gonzalez
LF Eric Young Jr.
2B Daniel Murphy
3B David Wright
RF Marlon Byrd
1B Josh Satin
C John Buck
CF Juan Lagares
SS Omar Quintanilla
RHP Zack Wheeler
HP Angel Hernandez
1B Paul Nauert
2B Doug Eddings
3B Dana DeMuth (cc)
1:11 p.m. — We are underway as Zack Wheeler fires strike one to Denard Span. Something to keep an eye on today: The Mets have been concerned that Wheeler is tipping his pitches, especially his breaking ball. It'll be interesting to see if the Nationals have any success picking that up today.
1:16 p.m. — Well, if Wheeler was tipping his pitches in the top of the first, the Nats certainly didn't take advantage of it. The rookie struck out Span and Anthony Rendon, then got Ryan Zimmerman to ground out to short in a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 inning. Here's Gio Gonzalez.
1:32 p.m. — That was kind a typical Gio inning right there, wasn't it? He gave up a one-out single to Daniel Murphy, then walked David Wright after getting ahead in the count 0-2. Kurt Suzuki went out to the mound and had an animated conversation with the left-hander, who must've taken the message to heart. Gio proceeded to strike out Marlon Byrd (who swung at a 2-2 fastball at his eyelids) and then got Josh Satin to fly out to end the inning without anybody scoring.
1:49 p.m. — Funny how sometimes the Nationals hit these feared, high-velocity pitchers when they can't touch the soft-tossers. They just inflicted some serious punishment on Wheeler in the top of the second. Adam LaRoche got it started by crushing Wheeler's first pitch of the inning off the Subway ad high above the right-field fence for his 12th homer of the season. Jayson Werth drew a walk, then scored on Ian Desmond's rocket double to right-center. Desmond scored on Kurt Suzuki's hard grounder past a diving Omar Quintanilla. And then Suzuki scored on Span's double to left-center. Yes, it's 4-0 Nats after an impressive rally in the second inning. (Oh, by the way, Desmond now has 26 RBI this month, only one shy of Adam Dunn's Nats record of 27 set in May 2009.)
2:05 p.m. — And another Wheeler fastball ends up in the bleachers. This time, Werth took him deep for his eighth homer of the season. The Nats lead 5-0 in the third and clearly have timed Wheeler's fastball.
2:13 p.m. — Remember that animated first-inning mound conversation between Gio and Suzuki I cited earlier? Well, since then, Gonzalez has faced eight batters. He's retired all eight, five on strikeouts. Nice job by the lefty to start going after the Mets hitters instead of trying to get too cute like he did to Wright in the first. Still 5-0 Nats after three.
2:31 p.m. — A leadoff double from Wright in the bottom of the fourth, but Gio pitches around that and retires the next three batters. He's thrown an impressive 50 of 72 pitches for strikes so far, a 69 percent rate that's a full nine points higher than his career average. 5-0 after four.
2:49 p.m. — The Nats chase Wheeler from the game in the fifth. Impressive job today by this lineup against the kid. David Aardsma now in out of the bullpen.
3:02 p.m. — A potentially interesting development in the top of the sixth, as Aardsma plunks Desmond with his first pitch. The Mets' TV crew immediately flashed to reaction shots of David Wright (who was hit in the arm yesterday by Craig Stammen and was buzzed up and in earlier today by Gio) and Terry Collins. Was that retaliation by the Mets? I don't know, though I'd be stunned if the Nats were trying to hit Wright on purpose this weekend. They seem to have made a concerted effort to go up and in on a guy who crowds the plate and has done some serious damage to them in the past. We'll see if anything happens now. Desmond, by the way, responded to the plunking by stealing second base. That's old-school. Still 5-0, heading to the bottom of the sixth.
3:09 p.m. — Another 1-2-3 inning for Gio, who has now retired 17 of the last 18 batters he's faced while throwing 72 percent of his pitches for strikes (67 of 93). Really good stuff today by the left-hander. Onto the seventh.
3:18 p.m. — One negative today: Anthony Rendon is 0-for-4 and is now hitless in his last 17 at-bats. His batting average has plummeted 50 points just like that, from .354 to .304. The rookie might need a day off just to clear his head.
3:31 p.m. — A couple of baserunners in the bottom of the seventh, but Gio still keeps them from scoring. He's probably done for the day, and what a day it was. His finale line: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 119 pitches, 84 strikes. Those 84 strikes are a career-high for Gio, shattering his previous record of 79. Quite a performance today from the lefty. Still 5-0 heading to the eighth.
3:58 p.m. — And the hits keep on comin'. Werth and Bernadina doubled in the eighth, and then Suzuki crushed a two-run homer off Brandon Lyon, extending the lead to 8-0. I don't know if it's the specter of Wilson Ramos' imminent return from the DL, but Suzuki all of a sudden is 5 for his last 8 with a double, a homer and four RBI. And it's still not over. Lyon, proving to be quite a slump-buster, served up a two-run double to Rendon, snapping his 0-fer-17. It's 10-0 now. ... Oops, make that 11-0 as Zimmerman drives in Rendon. Unbelievable.
4:05 p.m. — Whoa, now taking the mound in the top of the ninth for the Mets: Anthony Recker. He's the backup catcher. Yeah, that's what this one has come to.
4:12 p.m. — Well, Recker threw six straight balls and then Desmond crushed his first strike to the second deck. It's 13-0 heading to the bottom of the ninth.
4:22 p.m. — It's over, but only after John Buck hit a two-run homer off Ian Krol. So the Nats win, 13-2. They reach the halfway point of the season at 41-40 with their best offensive showing of the year, a brilliant pitching performance from Gio Gonzalez and now they head home where Bryce Harper is waiting to join the roster.