Things didn't start out well for Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez, who took the loss Tuesday in a 6-1 setback to the Mets. Gonzalez allowed an extra-base hit in each of the first two frames as the Mets took a 2-0 lead.
"Triple, double to left and that was it after that," Gonzalez said. "Pitcher gets a base hit on a broken bat. So, you just tip your cap - that's sometimes how the ball rolls. Can't do nothing about that."
Gonzalez, just as any starter would want, hoped his team could put runs on the board. They left four men on in the first three innings. But he knew the way he could control the issue is keep the Mets off the board.
"You've got to pitch better. That's it," Gonzalez said. "That's the best I can tell you. You can't walk anybody. You got to pitch better. If you want to win this game, you try to pitch better than the other pitcher.
"That's sometimes how the ball rolls. You can't do nothing about it. You just got to keep going forward and get 'em in Atlanta (his next start)."
But then Gonzalez settled down. He did not allow a hit from the third through the sixth innings.
"The positive was the past four innings," Gonzalez said. "To see myself in the seventh inning with 80-something pitches is definitely an improvement moving forward and keep going forward from there."
Was he surprised he was taken out in the seventh?
"I wanted to face the pitcher, yes," Gonzalez said. "To at least get that out of the inning, but I can only do my job as a pitcher. Go out there and try to minimize damage."
Nationals second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera said the game didn't go well for them offensively, but some of that credit certainly has to go to Mets starter Zack Wheeler.
"I think we be aggressive early," Cabrera said. "He walked a couple of guys too. We have the chance to score. So I think he made adjustment after that and he finished good."
Outfielder Jayson Werth didn't remember that Wheeler could throw with such high velocity on a consistent basis.
"That was the best I've seen him," Werth said. "His velocity was a lot higher than I remember. He had a lot of life on his fastball. He was really just throwing his fastballs for the most part of the game. But we had our chances. We had opportunities. I got thrown out at home plate. We had our chances but for whatever reason we didn't come through. You battle. I felt like we at least gave ourselves a chance tonight, we just didn't come through. We do that night in and night out I feel like we will be alright."
Offensively, one opportunity the Nationals had backfired in the second when Cabrera was hit by a grounder off the bat of Jose Lobaton. The catcher connected with men on second and third and a run already in, but the ball hit Cabrera and he was ruled out on the play.
"I saw the ball was coming straight to me," Cabrera said. "So he hit it to my left side."
In the sixth, Werth was thrown out at home. When the challenge was looked at after the play, Werth thought for a moment he might be safe.
"I did actually and then I saw the replay and saw that I was out," Werth said. "So, I was standing next to (bench coach) Randy (Knorr) when he got the call from upstairs and said I was out too. Those plays happen so fast. You always want to be safe. So, sometimes you think you are even though you aren't."
Werth said he has been trying to play through a sprained ankle from last week.
"I have to play through some pain. Just kind of bit a little bit coming out of the box," Werth said. "But I think it happened a couple of other times since I've done it. It's playable. Just hanging in there."
He said he also heard the buzz about the Werth gnome bobblehead giveaway in the stadium.
"The stories I've heard are pretty good," Werth said. "Obviously, pretty good crowd for a Tuesday. Unfortunately, I feel like there's a bunch of people who didn't get it. So for those people that showed up a little too late, that's too bad. Unfortunately, we weren't able to get a win for them. A night like tonight, when it's you're giveaway a bobble head or a gnome or whatever, you'd like to perform a little better than I did so I feel a little bad about that. Obviously, the loss hurts a little bit. Hopefully, we can win the next two games and win the series."
The Nationals fell to 60-51 with the loss, but Werth still has confidence they will be alright.
"Again, I think with the way the season's gone, given everything that's happened, all the injuries, guys being banged up all year, I think we're in a pretty good spot," he said. "We're finally healthy. I think we're playing pretty good baseball."
Well, not everyone. Ryan Zimmerman is out with a hamstring injury. And Wilson Ramos is on paternity leave. Bryce Harper is struggling. Not having three of those bats certainly doesn't help. But Werth still believes this team can fight through it and they are in a good position to outlast the Braves, and even gain some breathing room with the advantage in the NL East.
"I think the distance will come in time," Werth said. "I feel like that we're going to go on a run here at some point too. I like where we are at. I like the way we're playing night in and night out. We've been pitching good. Defense has been good. Hitting's been good for the most part. Last couple of nights we haven't been able to get a big hit. All in all, I feel like we're in a good spot.
"We're pretty much aware of everything. We know what's going on around here. I feel like we're in control of our game and where we're at in the season. I feel like at some point we're going to go on a roll and rattle off a bunch of games."
"We've got some division games coming up. August, September is really the time to go on a roll if you're going to do it. So I feel like we're poised to finish this thing off. But we got to keep playing good."