LaRoche just keeps on hitting (Gonzalez keeps on dealing)

The emergence of Adam LaRoche as a legitimate power hitter in the middle of the Nationals lineup - and a healthy one, at that - was one of the biggest stories we took from the Nats’ opening road trip.

Now that the Nats are back at home, LaRoche has no plans of slowing down.

Up with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, LaRoche delivered a huge two-run single to center, scoring Ian Desmond and Danny Espinosa to break a scoreless tie and give the Nats a 2-0 lead.

LaRoche is now hitting .370 this season with two homers and a team-high eight RBIs. His foot and surgically repaired shoulder and are healthy, and while LaRoche is normally a slow starter, the left-handed hitter has found a zone early in the season.

With Michael Morse out for at least the next six weeks because of a strained lat, LaRoche’s presence in the middle of the Nats order, and his ability to hit consistently, will be of massive importance. The Nats will need the veteran first baseman to step up and drive in runs, especially given the way they’ve left so many runners on through the first week of the season.

Gio Gonzalez is still going strong for the Nats, having allowed just two hits through six innings. LaRoche just keeps on hitting, and the strong performances from Nationals starters just keep on coming.

Update: Gonzalez is done after seven fantastic innings. The lefty allowed just two hits over seven scoreless frames, walking none and striking out seven.

Add in Gonzalez’s first major league hit, which came in the fifth when he singled down the left-field line, and it was an all-around solid little day for the 26-year-old.

The Nats still lead 2-0 as we enter the eighth.

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