Paging Sam Hutcheson, Sam Hutcheson to the white courtesy phone….
ATLANTA — Sunday night, when the Washington Nationals needed runs to break a tied score, a relic from their past lumbered in from left field. Livan Hernandez, the man who threw the first pitch in Nationals history, the soft-tosser who started opening day last year and became obsolete this year, emerged from the Atlanta Braves’ bullpen. The carnage that followed felt like a rally wrapped inside some kind of ritual, the Nationals at once pounding the Braves and further smashing their own history into dust.
The Nationals’ lambasting of Hernandez lifted them to a 7-2 victory at Turner Field and a resounding sweep of the Braves, their first this season after nine chances. Gio Gonzalez silenced the Braves with seven electric innings, striking out 10 while allowing one lonely hit. Gonzalez bettered Brandon Beachy, the major league ERA leader, who received little help from the collapsing team around him. [...]
[Gio] Gonzalez has staked an early claim to the top tier of the National League. He has a 2.04 ERA, a 7-1 record and leads the National League with 79 strikeouts. Gonzalez has allowed five or fewer hits in each of his last nine starts. In 612 / 3 innings, Gonzalez has yielded only 33 hits.
“Hopefully,” Harper said, “he can get a Cy Young this year.