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Saturday, September 01, 2012

CNSWashington: Zuckerman - Blowout win over Cardinals carries Nationals into September

Chants of “Let’s go Gio!” as the ninth inning began. A Gatorade shower and shaving cream pie to the face that came moments later. Thumping music in the clubhouse after another lopsided victory. And then applause from those remaining players watching the Braves blow a ninth-inning lead to the Phillies.

These are the sights and sounds of a pennant race, and Washington is smack-dab in the middle of one right now.

A 10-0 whitewashing of the Cardinals Friday night gave the Nationals as many wins as they posted in all of 2011—one shy of the club record—with 31 games still to play. Atlanta’s meltdown shortly after extended Washington’s lead to 6 1/2 games and lowered the magic number for the NL East title to 25.[...]

Sure, there was that minor bump in the road earlier in the week, that five-game losing streak that left many around town wondering whether it was time to panic. Then Davey Johnson closed the clubhouse door in Miami before Wednesday’s game, rallied the troops with an upbeat, positive speech and all they’ve done since is terrorize whatever poor opponent had the misfortune of sitting in the other dugout.

In three games since that meeting, the Nationals have outscored the Marlins and Cardinals 24-5 and put to rest any doubts that may have been creeping up during the losing streak.

“That’s what a great manager does,” Gio Gonzalez said. “A great manager sees a little glitch in the system, he fixes it up and gets us back going. That little speech he had for us was one of a kind.”

Perhaps nobody took the message more to heart than Gonzalez, who suffered one of the losses during that streak but returned Friday night with perhaps his most dominant performance of the season. Scattering four singles, a double and two walks, the left-hander notched the first shutout of his big-league career, finishing this one off on his 119th pitch of the evening.

And he did it with one notable distraction in his field of vision: His mother.

Yes, seated right behind the plate was Yoly Gonzalez, cheering on her son throughout his milestone performance and yelling at St. Louis’ batters and Washington’s fielders alike.

“I was like: ‘Oh god, somebody’s got to keep her quiet over there,’” Gio Gonzalez said.

Esoteric Posted: September 01, 2012 at 11:14 AM | 10 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, nationals, st. louis, washington

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. valuearbitrageur Posted: September 01, 2012 at 05:14 PM (#4224642)
Magic number 25?

What could go wrong?
   2. Joey B. "disrespects the A" Posted: September 02, 2012 at 08:55 AM (#4224971)
With the suddenly struggling Braves and Pirates losing again yesterday, we're now down to 21 for the wild card and 24 for the division.
   3. Spectral Posted: September 02, 2012 at 03:26 PM (#4225151)
Starts like that make me pretty comfortable going into the postseason with Gio as the ace. Granted, Strasburg will be missed, but Gio-Zimmermann-Jackson is nothing to sniff at.
   4. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: September 02, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4225236)
If John Lannan is even half as good as at AAA the Nats won't be taking much of a downgrade. I expect he'll put up one big stinker, but Strasburg did that last Tuesday so nobody's perfect. The Nats' bullpen is a bit scary of late, though. Sean Burnett in particular, with honorable mention to Matheus, against the Cards.

Cross your fingers and clench your sphincters.
   5. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: September 03, 2012 at 01:40 AM (#4225385)
With the expanded rosters hopefully they can give Burnett and some of the other guys a bit of a breather. I'd skip Zimmerman once, too, or at least pull him after 75 pitches or something. He looks wiped.

   6. McCoy Posted: September 03, 2012 at 01:52 AM (#4225388)
Who is this mystery pitcher named John Lannan who pitched so good in AAA that he doesn't even have to pitch that well to be only considered a slight downgrade from Strasburg?

1.44 WHIP
1.72 K/BB
10 hits a game, 1 homer a game
4.30 ERA
24 starts
   7. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: September 03, 2012 at 08:18 AM (#4225415)
Magic number 25?

What could go wrong?


Only thing I can see would be that coolstandings.com says that it's always been over. The Braves and the Red Sox can tell you something about that.
   8. TerpNats Posted: September 03, 2012 at 08:30 AM (#4225416)
I'm guessing Lannan has been working on some things in Syracuse, boosting his repertoire of pitches to complement that strong sinker of his. No one is asking him to be Strasburg, just someone who, like Detwiler, can excel in the back of the rotation. (And it's rare that more than four starters are used in a best-of-seven series.)
   9. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: September 03, 2012 at 08:43 AM (#4225417)
i think once it's postseason a team tries to stick to 3 starters if the off days work right
   10. bunyon Posted: September 03, 2012 at 09:11 AM (#4225423)
Was Lannan on the DL? Was he on the 25 on August 31?

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