Jayson Werth has been dealing with a hip injury lately, and with the Nationals trailing by six runs late in the game on a cool night, manager Davey Johnson opted to pull Werth entering the seventh inning.
Werth, who was replaced in right field by Mark DeRosa, declined to speak to reporters after the game, but his injury is not thought to be serious.
Tom Gorzelanny’s ERA took a big-time jump tonight, from 0.00 before the game to 7.36 after it. The Nationals left-hander had gone three straight scoreless outings spanning 5 1/3 innings prior to tonight, but he was ineffective against a Houston team that racked up 17 hits tonight overall.
“Balls got hit,” a frustrated Gorzaleanny said after the game. “Can’t do much about it.”
Making Gorzelanny’s outing tough to take was that it came after the Nationals had battled back from an early 5-0 deficit thanks in part to Ryan Zimmerman’s three-run homer, and trailed by just a run when Gorzelanny took the mound in the sixth inning.
Houston’s one-run lead increased to six by the time Gorzelanny had recorded three outs in the sixth, and the Astros managed to add another run off Gorzelanny in the seventh, allowing them to coast to an 11-4 win.
“Anytime you give up six runs in a game, that’s a little difficult to swallow. Doesn’t matter what the hell the score is,” Gorzelanny said. “You gave up runs. We’re still losing and it’s tough. Tried to keep us in the game. It didn’t happen.”
“The club really bounced back, Zim got a good hit, got us close, and there’s a case where Gorzo’s got to hold ‘em, because the bullpen’s been pretty taxed pretty much all year,” manager Davey Johnson said. “There wasn’t a case where I was going to throw the kitchen sink at them to try and win that ballgame. I want to go into the division series against Miami with not an overburdened ‘pen. Gorzo had to kind of take it on the chin. That happens in this game.”
Gorzelanny allowed hits to six of the first seven batters he faced in the sixth inning, including a two-run single to Astros pitcher Bud Norris. The pitcher-on-pitcher crime came when Norris reached out to get a fastball on the outer-half of the plate and served it into left-center. That base hit gave Houston a 7-4 lead.
“It was a good pitch,” Gorzelanny said. “He got it off the end of the bat. Don’t know if you heard the ball hit the bat. Hit a bloop single. Nothing I can do about that.”
Gorzelanny certainly doesn’t deserve all the blame for tonight’s loss, but Johnson admitted that he felt like the lefty was coming into the game in a situation where he could have success, given he was facing the bottom-half of Houston’s order and saw three lefties.
“That’s a perfect spot for Gorzo,” Johnson said. “And he gave up (three) hits to a couple left-handers. That’s something you don’t see very often. When you don’t do it, you put yourself behind the eight-ball. And that’s what happened.”