This sure isn’t how the Nationals wanted to start their three-game set with the Royals after winning the last three against the Cubs.
Gio Gonzalez has looked totally out of sorts through the first two innings, allowing six runs on seven hits. Five of those hits have been for extra-bases, including two homers, one by Eric Hosmer and one by former National Justin Maxwell.
Gonzalez allowed three extra-base hits to the first five hitters he faced tonight, giving up three runs in the first. But things didn’t get any better in the second.
Three more runs came around in the second with Alex Gordon, Hosmer and Billy Butler all adding RBI base knocks.
Gordon and Hosmer are now a combined 4-for-4 with two doubles, a homer and four RBIs through just two innings.
It’s 6-0 Royals, and the Nats will need a major, major comeback to extend their winning streak to four.
Beyond that, they need Gonzalez to buckle down and eat up some serious innings here.
The bullpen is gassed after a rough last week that included a 15-inning game in Atlanta in which the ‘pen (including Dan Haren) worked 14 innings, and then they needed to work overtime again yesterday in a 13-inning win over the Cubs.
Davey Johnson told reporters in Kansas City that Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard and Craig Stammen are all unavailable tonight. That leaves Tanner Roark, Fernando Abad, Drew Storen and the newly promoted Xavier Cedeno as the ones who will need to get the job done in relief of Gonzalez tonight.
Gonzalez appeared to have an issue with something on his throwing hand after the first inning, and MASN cameras showed him going down into the tunnel with trainer Lee Kuntz. The left-hander has dug the Nats a hole, but he needs to find a way to stop the bleeding and at least put in a few more innings of work.
Update: Eight unanswered runs, including a seven-run fourth? After trailing 6-0?
Yeah, on this incredibly bizarre road trip, it actually makes sense.
The Nats have exploded for eight runs in a two-inning span, seven of which came around in the fourth, knocking Royals starter Bruce Chen from the game and giving Gonzalez an 8-6 lead to work with.
After Tyler Moore grounded out for the second out of the third inning, 12 of the next 15 Nationals to come to the plate either reached base on a hit or a walk. The big blows in the fourth inning were Bryce Harper’s bases-clearing double and Jayson Werth’s two-run bomb to left-center, his 19th homer of the season.
Harper’s three-run double tied it. Werth’s longball put the Nats on top for the first time today.
Now we’ll see if Gonzalez can stop the merry-go-round and keep this score as it is for a little while.
That fourth inning, by the way, saw the Nats score more runs in a single frame in more than a year. The last time they put up seven in an inning was back on Aug. 13, 2012 in San Francisco.
Update II: Well, Gonzalez couldn’t, in fact, keep the score where it was. The left-hander allowed three straight Royals to reach starting the bottom of the fourth, and after Kansas City plated a run to make it an 8-7 Nats lead, Davey Johnson came to get his starter.
Gonzalez works just 3 1/3 innings, allowing seven runs (six earned) on nine hits with three walks and one strikeout. That line would’ve been worse if not for the work of Roark, who came out of the bullpen and got an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Maxwell.
This wild one goes to the fifth with the Nats clinging to a one-run lead.
Update III: Twice in seven innings tonight, the Nats have sent all nine batters to the plate. They did it in that seven-run fourth, when 11 batters took cuts against Royals pitching, and they did it again in the seventh, when the Nats sent nine to the plate and scored three more runs.
They now have an 11-7 lead midway through the seventh. Moore slapped an RBI single through the hole in the seventh, and two more runs came in on a Chris Getz throwing error.
Roark, meanwhile, has been tremendous yet again. He’s recorded eight outs on just 33 pitches, getting two double plays and bringing a sense of stability to a game that has been insanely topsy-turvy.
He’s in line for the win now, and if the score holds, Roark will improve to 4-0 in six major league appearances.
Update IV: Nothing is ever easy with this team.
The Nats allowed three runs in the bottom of the ninth, bringing the game-winning run to the plate. But while Soriano bent, he didn’t break, and the Nats closed out a roller coaster of an 11-10 win over the Royals.
Roark improves to 4-0 in just his sixth MLB game. His ERA over 16 1/3 innings: 1.10. Decent stuff.
The Nats have now won four in a row and improve to 62-62, the first time they’re back at .500 since all the way back on July 19.