What started out as a game wrought with baserunning mishaps and high pitch counts ended in favor of the Washington Nationals who squeaked by the Chicago White Sox in interleague play with an 8-7 victory. The game’s starters – left-hander Gio Gonzalez for Washington and right-hander Jake Peavy – combined to throw 59 pitches in the first inning alone. That inning lasted 28 minutes and produced just one run for the White Sox.
Chicago’s early run came as a result of a balk, Gonzalez’s fourth career balk in 129 games, with the bases loaded, two out, a full-count, and White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko at the plate. Third baseman Jeff Keppinger scored on that play after snapping his 0-for-19 stretch to start the season with a single off Gonzalez.
Both Bryce Harper and Gio Gonzalez had an opportunity to help their team out with big singles in the first and third innings respectively but they each ran (themselves) into the same problem – trying to stretch a routine single into a double. Harper and Gonzalez each got caught by right-fielder Alex Rios’ strong arm leaving Washington without a man in scoring position for the first three innings of the game.
Washington’s offense started to perk up in the fourth when leadoff man Denard Span did exactly that with a single off Peavy. He then scored on a sacrifice fly hit by third baseman Ryan Zimmerman to tie up the game at one run a piece.
Shortstop Ian Desmond continued their offensive effort in the fifth inning with a leadoff solo homerun of Peavy, his second homerun of the season, to put the Nats in the lead and Gonzalez in-line for the win. Washington held strong and cushioned their 2-1 lead in the sixth inning with a three-hit, four-run rally which included two homeruns from right fielder Jayson Werth (who recorded his 500th career RBI when he scored on that play) and first baseman Adam LaRoche. LaRoche’s homerun in the sixth snapped a 15 at-bat hitless streak dating back opening day, but LaRoche was just getting started.
Gonzalez’s night ended early when he was pulled after the fifth. The 99 pitch (57 strikes) outing resulted in four hits, one earned run, two walks, and six strikeouts. But when put into perspective, the bullpen gave up a total of six runs which makes Gonazalez’s shaky start look that much stronger. Long story short — it was a weird night of baseball at the Navy Yard.
Chicago made their own comeback in the seventh after Washington’s four-run rally in the sixth. The inning started with the Nats up 6-2 and ended with the Nats only up 6-5 when reliever Tyler Clippard gave up one-out walk, two hits (one homerun to Konerko), and three runs.
The Nats held out by securing a couple more insurance runs, including LaRoche’s second solo homerun of the night, which put them up 8-5. That cushion came in handy come the ninth inning when Chicago scored two runs off of closer Rafael Soriano. But in the end, Washington won 8-7 with right-hander Craig Stammen recording his second win of the season.