There were six home runs hit in tonight’s ballgame. The Nationals and White Sox combined to put up 24 hits.
Over the final eight half-innings, at least one run was scored in seven of them.
“Wasn’t pretty,” Nationals manager Davey Johnson said as he sat down for his postgame press conference.
Johnson then took a deep breath. It was one of those kinds of nights, but at least it ended in a win.
Gio Gonzalez needed 99 pitches to get through five innings of work, this after he threw 33 pitches in the opening frame.
“He’s done that before, but not quite that bad,” Johnson said. “I guess he was just missing, just off the plate. But 100 pitches in five is not usually Gio. But he had good stuff. Just didn’t throw it over.”
Adam LaRoche snapped out of an 0-for-15 stretch to start the season with two home runs in his final two at-bats tonight. The first home run was big to get LaRoche out of his mini funk. The second provided an insurance run that ended up being the game-winner.
“You guys were all worried about him,” Johnson said. “I wasn’t worried. He’s been hitting. He’s been swinging the bat good. He hit some balls hard that probably could’ve gone out and the wind was blowing in. I like the way he was swinging. That could ease a little pressure.
“He’s a smart hitter. He’s awful strong. Whether he gets going now or a little bit later, he’s so valuable on the ball club playing first base. I wasn’t worried about it. He’s a veteran. He’s had slow starts. He’s actually known for his slow starts. I think last year is the first time he actually came out of the chute (hot). Maybe I used him too much during the spring, I don’t know. Last year I think he only had a week of spring training and he played well from the get-go. But he’s been playing good. More guys are starting to swing the bat, which is a good sign.”
The Nationals bullpen continued to struggle a bit. Craig Stammen allowed three hits and a run in the sixth, Tyler Clippard gave up a three-run homer in the seventh to turn a four-run lead into a one-run edge and Rafael Soriano surrendered Alex Rios’ two-run blast in the ninth that made things interesting with two outs.
Drew Storen was the only reliever to deliver a clean frame, throwing a 1-2-3 eighth with two strikeouts.
“It’s early in the year. Guys are not throwing like I know they’re capable of,” Johnson said. “That’s the first time Clip’s given up any runs since he started throwing in spring. But Storen’s getting better location, getting sharper. Soriano, he’s not exactly where he needs to be, as far as I’m concerned. He’s mostly just throwing fastballs, locating fastballs. He isn’t really using his other stuff.”
Jayson Werth had just two home runs in the 54 regular season games he appeared in after returning from his broken left wrist last season. He already has three home runs in seven games this year, including his two-run shot to left in the sixth inning tonight.
“Obviously, his wrist is not bothering him, because he’s crushed the ball,” Johnson said. “And that’s a good sign. But I like his approach. He’s a tough out.
“He’s been more aggressive in the two-hole this year because his wrist feels stronger. Unless the scoreboard is wrong, he hasn’t walked yet. ... That just tells me he’s been swinging the bat more aggressively.”