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Orioles 4, Nats 1: Momentum halts as Gio, lineup struggle

Sep 22, 2015, 9:56 PM EDT

USA Today

GAME IN A NUTSHELL: The Nationals took the field on Tuesday winners of seven of their last eight, but their momentum both on the mound and on offense was stalled as the Baltimore Orioles controlled the series opener from start to finish with the final result a 4-1 Washington loss. The Nats have lost 9 of their last 13 games to the Orioles.

Gio Gonzalez stumbled to his shortest start of September and the Nats couldn’t produce much of anything against right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez. That was a marked change from the recent prowess shown by the Nats’ rotation, and the recent surge by their offense, which had scored 23 runs in their previous three games.

Gio made it just 4 2/3 innings and left with a three-run deficit. He was in and out of the strike zone and gave up two walks and six hits.

Jimenez went six innings and gave up only one run, which wasn’t earned. It was only the fourth time this season Jimenez has gone at least six innings with no earned runs allowed. He did walk five batters, but the Nats couldn’t make him pay for them.

It was a tough 24 hours for the Nationals’ fleeting playoff hopes. The Mets won on Monday and the Nats’ loss on Tuesday dropped New York’s magic number to six with only 12 games remaining on the Nationals’ schedule.

HITTING LOWLIGHT: Jimenez had a 4.31 ERA before Tuesday, but was able to keep the Nationals’ lineup at bay despite giving up five walks. He only allowed three hits and was not charged with an earned run.

The Nationals did get one run against Jimenez, but it was aided by a Jonathan Schoop error at second base. It came in the fourth inning and Schoop bobbled a groundball hit directly to him by Jonathan Lobaton. The mistake allowed Clint Robinson to score from third base. The Nats had two men on with one out after Robinson scored, but Gonzalez quickly grounded into a double play to dash those hopes.

The Nationals scored only one run for the first time since Sept. 12. They had notched four runs or more in eight straight games before Tuesday’s loss.

PITCHING LOWLIGHT: Gonzalez entered Tuesday carrying a streak of four consecutive solid outings, but he was no match for the deep Orioles lineup on this particular night. After zooming through the first inning, he quickly found trouble in the second and allowed two runs in the frame. He then gave up two more in the fifth before exiting after only 4 2/3 innings.

The two runs Gio allowed in the second inning were on singles to Jimenez and Nolan Reimold. The two runs in the fifth were on doubles by Chris Davis and Steve Pearce.

It was Gio’s shortest start in nearly a month and it included four earned runs on six hits and two walks. This is the 10th time in 28 starts this season that Gonzalez has allowed four earned runs or more. That is compared to six times in 27 outings last year.

Gonzalez left the mound with a 3.94 ERA. He should have a few more chances to lower that mark before the season is out, but it looks like a safe bet for Gio to finish with his worst season ERA since 2009.

KEY STAT: Harper had two walks in the game. The first tied Adam Dunn’s Nats’ single season record of 116 and his second set a new mark. He actually walked a third time in the eight inning and now has 118 total on the season. Harper has walked three times in a game nine times in his career and eight of those performances have come this year.

UP NEXT: The Nationals and Orioles continue their series with a 7:05 p.m. start on Tuesday night. Max Scherzer (12-11, 2.90) will pitch for the Nats, while Chris Tillman (9-11, 5.19) will get the ball for Baltimore.

  1. janebeard - Sep 22, 2015 at 9:59 PM

    Ugh. We needed this one. I’m still holding out hope. But maybe just by the fingertips now.

    • natsfan1a - Sep 22, 2015 at 10:05 PM

      Seconding, and I’ll add a “keep it up, Bravos.”

  2. philipd763 - Sep 22, 2015 at 10:00 PM

    The Nats blow a chance to gain a game on the Mets and Rendon ends the game with the bat on his shoulder. This team is gutless.

  3. philipd763 - Sep 22, 2015 at 10:02 PM

    The only thing remaining is to see if Desmond can get to 30 errors and 200 Ks!

  4. philipd763 - Sep 22, 2015 at 10:10 PM

    The worst thing that happened this season was Harper saying “Where’s my ring?” after Max Scherzer was signed. The second worst thing that happened this season was Harper hugging MW in the dugout the other night because that guarantees MW’s return next season.

    • Danny - Sep 22, 2015 at 10:11 PM

      Your posts are always so refreshingly negative ha

      • philipd763 - Sep 22, 2015 at 10:12 PM

        Well then say something positive Danny to cheer me up!

    • nats106 - Sep 22, 2015 at 10:14 PM

      Philip, only 6 more remaining games in this homestand and we can close the books on 2015. How is that for positive? It’s really all I have, which is more than the Nats had tonight.

  5. nats106 - Sep 22, 2015 at 10:12 PM

    In fairness to Rendon, that pitch looked to be a ball all inning long (must say, unless I’m attending games, I have little interest in watching them). I’d have to say that not too many others are interested as well. No one I knew was interested in my free tickets for the evening and never got a nibble at 6 bucks on stubhub.

    We’ve now officially wandered into the irrelevant zone, despite the hopes that some people seem to want to retain despite the facts that are in front of them.

    I am particularly dismayed that in the one inning I watched, I saw a RF (Pearce) botch a ball that should have been an out, with the hitter only making it to first base. Then FP, ever the homer, saying it didn’t matter that he got to 2nd, we just needed baserunners. Yeah, I guess that’s right. Then seeing a first baseman botch another ball-2 in 1 inning, yet we came up with nothing.

    That, to me is more damning than the fact that Rendon took a borderline pitch for strike 3.

    • philipd763 - Sep 22, 2015 at 10:16 PM

      Agree the pitch Rendon took was borderline but the ump was calling it a strike all evening.

      • nats106 - Sep 22, 2015 at 10:19 PM

        Well, if you had the stomach to watch the entire sordid event, then I’ll defer to you on the ump’s strike zone. I don’t think I can go tomorrow night. Not only do I have to listen to the disrespectful O’s chant during the national anthem, I can’t stand seeing Orioles crowing about their big, victory tonight, if in fact Orioles crow.

  6. NatsNut - Sep 22, 2015 at 11:02 PM

    My hopes now arent so much that the nata win the division, but that we drag it out as long as possible to extend their fans’ anxiety, sweat and pain. 😊

    • Karl Kolchak - Sep 22, 2015 at 11:20 PM

      Sadly, if I were a Mets fan I wouldn’t be at all worried given the way the Nats seem determined to lose EVERY time the race threatens to get interesting.

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