Oct 3, 2015, 3:56 PM EDT
GAME IN A NUTSHELL: On a raw, wet, windy Saturday afternoon at Citi Field, the Nationals gathered for the opener of a day-night doubleheader in advance of Sunday’s season finale, with very little still on the line. They still managed to show up and give a strong performance, riding Gio Gonzalez’s six innings of scoreless ball and homers from Clint Robinson and Bryce Harper to beat the Mets in Game 1 of the day.
Gonzalez was effective, if inefficient, in matching Noah Syndergaard pitch for pitch for six innings before turning things over to his bullpen. That bullpen couldn’t hold the 1-0 lead Robinson provided with his solo homer, with Blake Treinen and Matt Grace combining to surrender the tying run in the seventh.
But Harper’s 2-run bomb off Addison Reed (his 42nd of the year) gave the Nationals the lead back in the eighth, and Casey Janssen and Felipe Rivero closed out their team’s 82nd victory of the year. If nothing else, the Nats are assured of their fourth consecutive winning season.
HITTING HIGHLIGHT: Harper had been mired in a 4-for-32 slump when he stepped to the plate in the top of the eighth. He also had taken a 97-mph fastball off his left knee in his previous at-bat. No matter, because Harper launched a slider from Addison Reed into the second deck in right field. Harper now has 42 homers, 99 RBI and a .331 batting average as he attempts to hold off Dee Gordon for the NL batting title.
PITCHING HIGHLIGHT: You never really know which version of Gonzalez you’re going to get anytime he takes the mound, but the good version most definitely showed up today. Gonzalez tossed six scoreless innings of 3-hit ball, keeping the Mets lineup at bay throughout. Gio being Gio, he of course endured through a 3-walk bottom of the third that tested everyone’s patience, but the lefty battled through it to post another zero and keep his shutout intact. This was an inconsistent season for Gonzalez, but he finished with more-than-respectable numbers: 11-8, 3.79 ERA, 169 strikeouts in 175 2/3 innings. the biggest bugaboos: 69 walks and an average of only 5.6 innings per start.
KEY STAT: Over his last 12 games, Matt den Dekker is hitting .440 (11-for-25) with four doubles, two homers and five RBI.
UP NEXT: Both clubs will be back at it at 7:10 p.m. for the regularly scheduled portion of today’s doubleheader. Max Scherzer (13-12, 2.91) faces Matt Harvey (13-7, 1.80) in a star-studded pitching matchup.
FINAL NL EAST STANDINGS
ON THE RADIO
As ESPN-980 AM's Nats Insider, Mark makes daily appearances on the station's various shows. Here's the 2015 schedule (subject to change)...
MON: 12:45 p.m.
TUE: 2:30 p.m.
WED: 4:30 p.m.
THU: 2:30 p.m.
FRI: 5:30 p.m.
SAT: 10:30 a.m.
*All times Eastern. You can also listen to the station on 94.3 FM, 92.7 FM and online at ESPN980.com. Click here for past audio clips.
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