Found June 03, 2012 on The Nats Blog:

gio06032012Gio Gonzalez came into Sunday’s Washington Nationals game against the Atlanta Braves looking to replicate his last start where he gave up just one hit in seven innings. Unfortunately, he wasn’t even able to come close to that. He lasted just 4.2 innings with 91 pitches on the way to a 3-2 loss for the Nats.

The game certainly got started the right way for the Nats offense, though. In the top of the first, Steve Lombardozzi destroyed his first career home run off the back wall of Nats bullpen. Not to be outdone, Harper hits a second-deck homer above Nats bullpen for the team’s third back-to-back jack on year. According to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, it was the first time in the modern era that two rookies had hit back-to-back home runs to lead off a game. That would pretty much do it for the Nats offense, though.

They didn’t score again, as Tommy Hanson had an incredible outing for the Atlanta Braves. He went seven innings on just 84 pitches. He didn’t walk any and struck out six. He was absolutely dominating.

The Nationals’ three through six hitters combined to go 0-for-16 today, which makes it close to impossible to win a baseball game. After the game, Davey Johnson said about Ryan Zimmerman, “I feel like he’s close... [I] feel like he’s just inching closer to feeling comfortable up there.” When asked about if he thought Zimm’s shoulder was still bothering him, he said, “It might be, but he’s not gonna say anything about it. He knows his importance to this ball club.”

With the loss, the Nats fell to 30-22 on the season and are now tied with the Miami Marlins for first place in the NL East. You should definitely get used to this narrative all summer, as the division doesn’t show signs of getting any less competitive. Not to mention, the division will face off against the AL East, the best division in the AL, in interleague play starting next weekend.

Some Thoughts:

Danny Espinosa has gotten a lot better recently. Over the last 12 games, he’s hitting .282 with a .391 OBP. I’m not saying he’s fixed. He still strikes out a ton, but it is certainly encouraging.

Bryce Harper is an aggressive player, and I applauded him for it when he was gunned out at second trying to stretch a single into a double on Saturday. On Sunday, though, he tried to stretch a double into a triple and was thrown out again. He would have been in scoring position with just one out had he stayed at second; it was an inexcusable error. Harper will learn when to be aggressive and when to play it a bit safer over time, but more often than not, aggressive is good. 

- Ian Desmond has just seven errors through 51 games this year, and he had a couple of nice grabs in Sunday’s game, one in the third and one in the sixth. This really does look like it could be the year that the Nats had hoped for with their young shortstop. I think moving him out of the leadoff spot made a real difference.

- Mike Gonzalez came in for Craig Stammen and faced the minimum in the 8th after getting rookie Andrelton Simmons to ground into an inning-ending double play. Gonzalez was added to the 40-man roster just before Sunday’s game and is the fourth lefty in the Nats bullpen. That’s probably not sustainable long-term.

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Nationals adjust to drafting in middle of pack

Because the Washington Nationals have drafted so well in recent years, they're stuck picking in the middle of the pack. Washington has the 16th overall selection in Monday night's major league draft, their worst position since 2003, when they had the 20th choice. The Nationals went 80-81 last year, an 11-game improvement from 2010. And Washington entered play Sunday in...

Strasburg strikes out nine in 7 innings

Even though Stephen Strasburg is on a three-game winning streak, his most recent starts hadn't been especially smooth. On Saturday, he threw freely and easily, pitching four-hit ball for seven sharp innings to help lead the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves 2-0. Strasburg (6-1) completed seven shutout innings for the first time in his major league career. He opened...

Nationals and Strasburg Prevail In Pitcher's Duel

The Washington Nationals looked to continue their success against the Atlanta Braves on Saturday, and the headline matchup between Stephen Strasburg and Brandon Beachy certainly didn't disappoint. The secondary headline to make Nats fans happy was looking in right field and seeing Michael Morse make his 2012 MLB debut. Strasburg had one of the best starts of his entire career...

Braves held scoreless by Strasburg, Nationals

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Stephen Strasburg pitched four-hit ball for seven sharp innings and Jesus Flores homered, leading the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves 2-0 on Saturday. Strasburg (6-1) completed seven shutout innings for the first time in his major league career. He opened the game with a flourish, striking out the first four Braves batters. Strasburg struck out nine...

Stephen Strasburg is pretty good

Yes, that heading is a bit of Twitter humor. Stephen Strasburg is pretty good like Lennon-McCartney were pretty good at writing songs. His latest Top Forty hit was a nine-strikeout, zero-walk dominance of the Atlanta Braves in a game where thirteen of his ninety pitches topped 98 MPH including two over 99 in his seventh inning of work. His change-up averaged 91 MPH. His change-up...

Nationals 2, Braves 0

Stephen Strasburg pitched four-hit ball for seven sharp innings and Jesus Flores homered, leading the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves 2-0 on Saturday. Strasburg (6-1) completed seven shutout innings for the first time in his major league career. He opened the game with a flourish, striking out the first four Braves batters. Strasburg struck out nine, walked none and...

What a difference a year makes...

  This time last year? Davey Johnson was manning the phone for the Nationals (with Pat Corrales) at the MLB First-Year Player Draft. In the screencap above (via MLB Network), Corrales was either ordering pizza or prank calling the Phillies. This year? Nats picking at #16. Davey's sitting in a slightly different seat. "Uncharted waters" pretty much sums it up.....

A New Draft Day Comes With Big Changes and Challenges

The 2012 MLB Amateur Draft begins today, and it’s a day that many baseball fans look forward to more than the actual season. It’s a chance to see your team’s future in a snapshot, and it gives even the worst teams hope for the future. This year, though, the draft is going to look very different. The Washington Nationals spent the last five years picking in the top ten in...

Hanson helps Braves to win over Nationals

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Tommy Hanson shook off an agonizing start to outpitch Gio Gonzalez, and the Atlanta Braves beat the Washington Nationals 3-2 Sunday to end a six-game skid against their NL East rivals. Hanson (6-4) gave up homers to the first two batters he faced, with rookies Steve Lombardozzi and Bryce Harper connecting on consecutive pitches. Hanson then blanked the Nationals...

Mets-Nationals Preview

The Washington Nationals are sputtering, but they still hold an unlikely lead by the slimmest of margins in the cluttered NL East. It may be even more surprising that the New York Mets aren't far behind. The Nationals will try to reverse a sluggish stretch in the opener of this three-game series against the visiting Mets on Tuesday night. Washington (30-22) and New York (31...

Sale, Gonzalez earn May pitcher awards

Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale and Washington Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez were named the American League and the National League pitchers of the month for May, Major League Baseball announced Sunday. Sale won his first monthly honor by pitching a 4-1 record with a 1.71 ERA in five starts. He struck out 35 batters in 31 2/3 innings. His honor marked the first time a team...

Who Are the Best Pitchers In the NL East?

It's not hard to tell that the NL East isn't going to be an easy breeze for the Phillies this year. The Nationals are serious contenders and not the joke of the league anymore, the Marlins are re-stocked and re-branded, the Braves haven't really changed a whole lot, and the Mets - well - they're the Mets.  Anyway, the NL East is most likely the most talented division...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.