The Washington Nationals had come back from a five-run, first-inning deficit against the Houston Astros last night when to open the sixth, Manager Davey Johnson called on Tom Gorzelanny to relieve starter Edwin Jackson.
Jackson had recovered from a rocky beginning, and his teammates chipped away until Ryan Zimmerman’s three-run blast in the third had drawn the Nationals within a run in their quest for a four-game sweep.
Gorzelanny had not pitched since Monday, so Johnson figured his long reliever would be rested and sharp. Much to Johnson’s surprise, Gorzelanny was anything but, allowing six runs in two innings during an 11-4 loss at Nationals Park that ended the club’s three-game winning streak.
“This is baseball,” Gorzelanny said. “Stuff like this happens. You’ve got to be able to bounce back from it and get over it quickly.”
Johnson wound up leaving Gorzelanny in the game despite all of his struggles in large part because the Nationals’ bullpen was in dire need of a break.
Jackson had saved the bullpen four innings by working out of the first-inning jam, and with a series against NL East rival Miami starting on Friday, Johnson was all but resigned to let Gorzelanny to absorb some innings too.
“Bullpen’s been pretty taxed pretty much all year,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t the case where I was going to throw the kitchen sink at them trying to win that ballgame. I want to go into the division series against Miami without an overburdened pen so Gorzo kind of had to take it on the chin. That happens in this game.”
Gorzelanny allowed the first seven hitters he faced to reach base, including pitcher Bud Norris, whose two-run single with the bases loaded gave Houston a 7-4 lead.
Jose Altuve doubled two batters later to give the Astros a 9-4 cushion, and J.D. Martinez’s grounder scored Jordan Schafer from third for the final run of the inning.
Gorzelanny began the seventh by getting Brian Bogusevic to ground out to third, but Matt Downs followed with a double, and Jason Castro singled him home to complete the scoring.
“Anytime you give up six runs in a game, that’s a little difficult to swallow,” said Gorzelanny, who clearly was disappointed in himself. “It doesn’t matter what the hell the score it. You gave up runs. We’re still losing. It’s tough. Tried to keep us in the game. It didn’t happen.”