This sure counts as one of those total-team-effort type of wins tonight.
The Nationals got stellar starting pitching from Gio Gonzalez, who went six scoreless innings; got great defensive plays from Anthony Rendon, Ian Desmond and others; saw five of their position players chip in with at least one hit; and watched the bullpen lock down a 5-0 win over the Marlins.
These are the type of wins that really make managers smile.
Matt Williams loved what he got from Gonzalez today, who elevated his pitch count early, but ended up allowing just three hits and surrendering two walks over six scoreless, lowering his ERA through two starts to 0.75.
“He just competes every time he goes out there,” Williams said. “The last couple starts, he’s ended up throwing lots of pitches, but when he has to lock it in, he locks it in. So he’s been good.”
There were a handful of solid defensive plays made by the Nats today, but Rendon’s charging, barehanded play on a Reed Johnson bunt in the seventh inning was huge. If Johnson reaches, the Marlins have the bases loaded with one out, trailing by three. Instead, after Rendon scooped the ball and delivered an on-the-money sidearm throw to first for the out, Miami was left with runners at second and third and two outs.
Drew Storen then got Greg Dobbs to fly out to end the threat.
“It was a really good defensive play by Anthony,” Williams said. “And he’s comfortable playing over there - it’s not something that’s foreign to him. It was a good play. Barehanded, and a strong throw to get him. Reed runs well, too. So it took a good play to get him. ...
“We don’t want Ryan (Zimmerman) down, but if something like this does happen and he has to be out for a couple of days, then we have not only Anthony, but we have Danny (Espinosa) that can play Gold Glove defense in the middle. And that’s one of the reasons that both of them are on our team, because if something does happen like this, we can put guys in different spots and they perform. That’s a great luxury to have.”
The Nats continued to put Williams’ aggressive mentality into practice, and tonight it paid off. Adam LaRoche sprinted for second on a ball in the dirt in the sixth inning, and when the throw down got away from second baseman Jeff Baker, Bryce Harper trotted in to score the Nats’ second run.
“Tonight, with (Henderson) Alvarez, he’s not a guy you can steal a lot of bases on, but he does throw a lot of balls in the dirt, so that’s something we talked about before the game, that if we get an opportunity to do that, be ready for it and be alive for it.” Williams said. “It’s a part of the gameplan going in.
“We have to make sure that we take advantage of those opportunities. So as long as we’re prepared for it and we’re expecting it, then we’re able to do it. If you don’t expect it, then you’re a tick late all the time. It’s something that, those little things within the game, we want to make sure we’re good at. Advancing on a ball in the dirt if it gets away from the catcher, things like that.”
LaRoche had three hits and a walk today, Rendon drove in three and Jayson Werth added a double in the first that led to the game’s first run. Again, everyone contributing.
“The guys have played well,” Williams said. “They’ve hung in there when they’ve had to. Tonight, Anthony came up with a big, big hit, Rochie taking a ball the other way in the first inning, those types of things help you win games.”