Bryce Harper got called out of the dugout by the Nationals Park crowd on opening day, getting a curtain call following his second homer of the ballgame.
Tonight, Gio Gonzalez was the one to get the curtain call, and not for something he did while on the mound.
The Nationals left-hander took a first-pitch Kevin Slowey curveball into the bleachers in left field for his second career home run.
The blast came with one out in the fifth and gave the Nats a 1-0 lead.
He circled the bases with a look of amazement on his face, and got a warm reception from his teammates in the dugout. It doesn’t take much to get Gonzalez smiling, but he was all grins, as Davey Johnson likes to say, following his longball.
Gonzalez has the last two homers hit by Nationals pitchers; the previous one was hit by the left-hander (who bats righty, by the way) on Aug. 8 at Houston last year.
On the bump, this hasn’t been the sharpest we’ve seen Gonzalez, but on a bitterly cold night at Nats Park, Gonzalez has used a great curveball to help work through five scoreless innings.
The left-hander has allowed just two hits to this point, and he’s struck out three.
Two of those three Ks came with the curve, which has had been on point tonight. Gonzalez got Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton flailing at a curve in the fourth, and got Adeiny Hechavarria swinging at another sharp curve to leave a runner stranded on third in the fifth inning.
There hasn’t been a whole lot of offense tonight here in the district, but Gonzalez is chipping in on that front while also holding the Marlins at bay.
Miami has still not scored a run through 14 innings this season.
Update: Make that 15 straight scoreless innings thrown by the Nats to start the season.
Gonzalez is done after six scoreless innings of work, having allowed just two hits and two walks with five strikeouts. He threw 91 pitches, 55 strikes.
The lefty ended his outing by striking out Stanton to end the sixth. Gonzalez needed just three pitches to send Stanton back to the dugout, and yet again, it was the curveball that set him down.
It’s still 1-0 Nats, after Ian Desmond grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to leave Ryan Zimmerman stranded at third after Zimmerman had reached on a triple earlier in the frame.
Update II: Denard Span’s RBI groundout - albeit an unusual one - has made it a 2-0 Nats lead after seven.
Roger Bernadina, on to pinch-run at first base, knocked down second baseman Donovan Solano, who was in the baseline and attempted to turn a 4-3 double play. Because Bernadina has the right to that space, however, there was no obstruction, and Danny Espinosa safely came in from third to make it a 2-0 game.
Drew Storen is on work the eighth.
Update III: The Nats added an insurance run in the eighth after Ryan Zimmerman plated Harper (who had doubled leading off the inning), and Rafael Soriano got his second save in as many games in the Nats’ 3-0 win.
Nationals pitchers have delivered back-to-back shutouts to begin the season. Are their hurlers throwing that well? Are the Marlins that bad?
It might be a mix of the two. Regardless, it’s a 2-0 start to the season for the Nats.