It was a day for the polite golf clap at Nationals Park. The golf clap might be the sort of thing that Tiger Woods lives for, but at a baseball game, it’s a mark of crowd frustration, and there was plenty of that today as the Nats dropped the last game of the series 9-5 going into a critical 4-game weekend series against Atlanta.
After two straight come-from-behind wins, the Nationals were hoping for an easy shut-em-down-early outing from Gio Gonzalez. That’s not what they got. Gonzalez went just 3.1IP, gave up 6 runs (all earned) including two monster home runs by Mets 3B David Wright and one by Ike Davis. After giving up just four home runs all year, to see Gonzalez give up 3 dingers today was definitely out of character for the Nats’ winningest pitcher.
With a big series this weekend against the Braves, after the Mets had done their damage early, the Nats had several of their veterans yanked for fresher arms and bats, and a comeback was mounted, but R.A. Dickey’s 7 1/3 of 3-run ball was too much to overcome. Though the late inning replacements did a stellar job (DeRosa, 2-3; Desmond 1-1, HBP; Moore, 2-2) mistakes were made, and they stranded a dozen on the base paths, including 6 with the bases loaded.
The series against Atlanta is in sharper relief with a Braves win and Nationals loss today, as just 3 1/2 games separate the two juggernauts ahead of a 4-game series. The Nationals will have Ian Desmond back in the saddle, said Davey Johnson after the game today, as well as former opening day starter John Lannan making a brief cameo to start the night game of Saturday’s twin bill. This will be Lannan’s first outing with the big club since he was optioned to Syracuse at the end of Spring Training, and is courtesy of a new policy in the collective bargaining agreement which allows for a 26th player on the active roster on the day of a doubleheader.
After the game today, manager Davey Johnson wished Rick Ankiel well, as he was designated for assignment by the club this morning to allow for the return of Drew Storen to the active roster after elbow surgery this spring. Johnson spoke well of Ankiel’s time in Washington, but said this was the right move at the right time. This will give the Nationals 8 relievers through the weekend series. Johnson also mentioned Corey Brown in passing (Brown crushed his 21st homer in AAA Syracuse this afternoon) as a possible left-handed bat to add to the roster, though the timing is not clear.