The Nationals did not record a hit once Mets starter Collin McHugh left after four innings, but they still notched their 87th victory, more than any Washington team since the summer World War II ended. After the Atlanta Braves lost in Milwaukee, the Nationals’ magic number to clinch the National League East dropped to 15 and their lead nudged back to 61
Kurt Suzuki, Ryan Zimmerman and Ian Desmond each blasted a home run. The trio continued an overwhelming trend. In their past seven games, the Nationals have ripped 23 home runs. Suddenly, since the all-star break, the Nationals have smashed 78 homers, more than any team in the NL. They also lead the league in runs scored since the break.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that are very strong,” Manager Davey Johnson said. “They’re growing up to be good hitters. Zim’s already a great hitter. I think he’s fully over that shoulder injury. That ball tonight was crushed, one of the hardest hit balls I’ve seen. Look up and down our lineup, there’s a lot of guys that have a bunch of homers.”
Despite five walks in six innings, Gonzalez still stifled the Mets. He allowed just three hits and lowered his ERA to 2.93, fifth in the NL. He extended his scoreless innings streak to 19 before Scott Hairston led off the fourth with the Mets’ first hit, a homer to left field. Even with the early control problems, Gonzalez struck out six, one per inning.
“I wouldn’t want to face him, by any means,” Desmond said. “I’d give him a Cy Young right now.”
Gonzalez walked two batters in the first inning and two more in the third. “I may have had a little too much coffee,” Gonzalez said. But he still held the Mets scoreless. His biggest moment came in the third. Consecutive two-out walks brought to the plate David Wright, the Mets’ lone significant threat. Gonzalez and Wright battled to a 3-2 count, and then Gonzalez froze him with a bold, 3-2 curveball.
“Command might not have been the best he’s ever had, but he pitched through it,” Suzuki said. “The thing I’m talking about with Gio is, learning how to pitch, especially when you don’t have your best command, your best stuff out there, and still getting the job done. That’s the sign of a good pitcher.”