Bryce Harper circles the bases following his third inning home run off of Cincinnati’s Tim Adleman in Washington’s 5-0 victory over the Reds at the Great American Ballpark on July 14th.
NATIONALS 5 Reds 0
Record 53-36 9.5 games up on Atlanta in the NL East
WP- Gonzalez (8-4) LP- Adleman (5-7) SV- Grace (1)
HR- Harper, Was 2(22)
The second half of the Nationals’ season began with a great all-around effort as Washington defeated the Reds 5-0 in the first game of a four game series at Cincinnati. Here’s a look at some of the news and notes from the game.
STARS OF THE GAME
Gio Gonzalez was razor sharp on the night, allowing only four hits in 8.1 shutout innings to earn his eighth win of the year. Gonzalez induced 14 ground ball outs and struck out six as he registered his 17th game in 19 starts on the year where he’s allowed three or fewer earned runs. Gonzalez’s 79 pitching game score was his highest in a road contest since September 9, 2013 when he posted a 91 score in Washington’s 9-0 rout of the New York Mets.
Nationals’ rightfielder Bryce Harper is a unique talent, and his power stroke was on display on Friday night. Harper homered twice for the fourth time this year and registered the 14th multi-home run game of his career to pace Washington’s attack. The all-star has a nine game hitting streak going, and is 15-34 with 12 runs scored, two doubles, four home runs and 10 RBI during that time period.
He may not have been part of the All-Star festivities in Miami earlier this week, but anyone who has watched Anthony Rendon play this year realizes that the Nats’ third baseman is playing at an All-Star level. Rendon was 2 for 3 with a double and a run batted in at the plate and made several sparkling defensive plays to support Gonzalez’s strong outing.
STRONG EVEN IN DEFEAT
The Reds have a large supply of power arms in the bullpen, and righty Asher Wojciechowski’s ability to throw hard was on display on Friday. The South Carolina native struck out four, including Harper and Rendon, in two scoreless innings pitched.
Brian Goodwin led of the contest with a double to right and later scored the game’s first run on a Stephen Drew RBI hit. The first inning success for the Nats’ rookie is nothing new. In 24 at bats in the first inning so far this year, Goodwin is hitting .375 with a 1.194 OPS.
Catcher Matt Wieters had a strong game, working with Gonzalez to shut down the Reds and picking up two hits in three at bats. The multi-hit game was the 14th of the year for Wieters, but only his third in games played away from Nationals Park.
Rendon was not the only Nationals’ player flashing the leather on Friday night. Goodwin and Chris Heisey both made sparking catches, with Goodwin’s keeping the Reds off of the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth with Washington holding only a three run lead. Middle infielders Drew and Wilmer Difo also were strong with the glove, with Drew turning a potential two run single by Tucker Barnhart into a game ending out to end a Reds’ bases loaded threat.
Later today, Cincinnati fans will get to see something they’ve not had a chance to do previously. Nats’ ace Max Scherzer will make the first appearance of his career at the Great American Ballpark as he looks for his 11th win on the year. In his career Scherzer has posted a 2.75 ERA, the best mark in any month for the All-Star righty.
Opposing Scherzer will be rookie Luis Castillo, who is 1-1 with a 3.13 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched. The righthander has been more effective keeping lefties (.222/.286/.469) than righties (.286/.375/.452) off base so far this year.
So far this year the Nationals have not been living it up on Saturday night, or at any time during the weekend’s first day for that matter. Washington is 6-8 in Saturday contests so far in 2017.