There were plenty of ugly moments in the Nationals’ 10-2 loss to the Astros, and not all of them involved Tom Gorzelanny. Shortstop Ian Desmond made two errors, one booted grounder and one misfired throw. Outfielder Corey Brown oddly held the ball in right field, seemingly confused about which base to throw to, and allowed a run to score on a sacrifice fly.
But, yeah, most of them involved Gorzelanny. He yielded seven earned runs in three innings, also allowing the one runner he inherited from Stephen Strasburg to score. Gorzelanny hit the first batter he faced than allowed a mammoth home run by J.D. Martinez. In another stretch, Gorzelanny allowed a bases-loaded walk, uncorked a bases-loaded wild pitch and served up a three-run homer to Fernando Martinez, which, in fairness, got a decisive amount of help from the stiff wind.
Afterward, Manager Davey Johnson blamed himself for the way Gorzelanny’s outing unfolded. He wanted to pull Gorzelanny, seeing no reason for Gorzelanny to absorb punishment in a spring training when he clearly didn’t have it. But Johnson did not have Ryan Mattheus warming up in the bullpen in time to pull Gorzelanny.
Gorzelanny actually told Johnson he had no problem staying out there, that he wanted the work. Johnson still insisted he was at fault.
“You can put it on me,” Johnson said. “Gorzelanny is okay. He threw a couple more pitches than I wanted him to throw. we had a little problem communicating with the bullpen, getting Mattheus ready to come in. Talking to Gorzo, he said he needed the work. That’s not the kind of work I want to give him. I guess I’m rusty, 12 years since my last spring training. You can put that on me letting him stay out there and take a beating.”
This being March 4, one bad outing is not the end of the world, and likely will not go too far in determining his place on the team. But, man, that was a rough one for Gorzelanny.
>>> It was a strong day for the Nationals bullpen. Mattheus allowed only a walk in 1 1/3 innings, striking out two. Brad Lidge retired all three batters he faced, striking out one of them. Drew Storen overmatched all thee hitters he faced, striking out two and getting a groundball using only 11 pitches.
Afterward, Johnson coined a nickname for Storen based his proclivity for toying with his delivery.
“I’m going to start calling him Tinkerbell,” Johnson said. “He comes in with all kinds of different little moves. Once the game started, he looked good.”
>>> Bryce Harper entered the game in right field in the fifth inning, and his hustle defined his brief performance. He went 1 for 2, beating out an infield single before striking out looking at a fastball.
On defense, Harper’s most notable moment came when former National Brian Bixler lashed a line drive off Tyler Clippard into the right field corner. Harper bolted for the ball and made a wild, diving attempt. He missed the ball, which allowed Bixler to scoot all the way to third for a triple.
Harper may have held Bixler to a double had he taken a more conservative tack. But Johnson believed Harper had done the right thing, making a desperate stab down eight runs in the eighth inning.
“At that point, make a great play,” Johnson said. “What the heck, we’re eight runs down. If we’re protecting a two-run lead, we’d play a little differently. I liked his hustle.”