Game #37 Recap: Gio Strong, but Nats Fall
Gio Gonzalez took the hill for the Nationals in the rubber match of the series against the Cubs. He went up against Cubs right hander, Scott Feldman. Gio was looking to have another solid game after allowing only 2 runs to the Pirates. Feldman has been pretty good for the Cubs so far this season, coming into the game with a 2.70 ERA.
Feldman got off to a slow start, allowing a leadoff double to Denard Span. A walk to Harper put runners at 1st and 2nd. Ryan Zimmerman doubled to give the lead to the Nationals in the 1st inning. Adam LaRoche struck out swinging, then Ian Desmond drew a walk and the bases were loaded. Danny Espinosa was at the plate, but couldn't come up with anything and he flew out to end the inning.
The run in the bottom of the 1st was all the Nationals were able to muster in the game as they would be unable to get any more runs across after that point. The Nationals would have their chances, getting runners in scoring postion here and there, but never break through with anything. It seemed, though as if Gio was cruising right along, so 1 runs may have been more than enough. Gio was dominating the Cubs, not even allowing a hit until the 6th inning. Gio would load the bases on a couple of walks, but work out of it by getting Anthony Rizzo to ground out, keeping the score 1-0 in favor of the Nats.
The turning point in the game came in the bottom of the 7th inning, where Gio was due to lead off the inning. Having thrown only 86 pitches Gio was handling the Cubs very well to that point, but Manager Davey Johnson decided to put in pinch hitter Chad Tracy in an attempt to get some more runs. The offensive move did not work and the Nationals went through the bottom of the 7th without having scored any runs. Gio's final line would be 7 innings, 2 hits, 6 strikeouts, and one walk while allowing no runs.
Drew Storen came into the game to pitch the 8th inning and to protect a lead in a 1-0 game. Cubs catcher Dioner Navarro singled to lead off the inning. The Cubs pinch ran Travis Wood for Navarro. Darwin Barney then sacrified Wood over to 2nd base. Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro then singled to drive Wood home and tie the game at 1-1. A walk to Bryce Harper was all the Nationals could muster off the Cubs in the bottom of the 8th inning.
Rafael Soriano came in to keep the game tied in the top of the 9th inning. Alfonso Soriano and Julio Borbon were able to single off of Soriano and put runners at 1st and 2nd. Soriano and Borbon went for the double steal and Kurt Suzuki went for the throw to 3rd. It appeared as if Suzuki's hand nicked off of Wellington Castillo's bat, as a result the ball went into foul territory in left field allowing both runners to steal safely and for Soriano to score and keep a runner at 3rd.
The Nationals did not muster any runs in the bottom of the 9th and lost their 17th game of the season. The bottom of the 9th was highlighted by a strikeout of Kurt Suzuki. The called 3rd strike came on a ball that was way outside of the strike zone and home plate umpire John Tumpane called stike 3. Suzuki immediately argued and was tossed almost immediately. In a tumultuous week for umpires, it does not reflect well on MLB's officiating. Regardless, the Nationals had their chances, but could not come through.