Gio Shines, H-Rod Fails, But Nats Beat Phils

DC Sports Nexus ---- Monday, May 21, 2012

Nationals 2, Phillies 1

Despite not getting a hit in the 5th inning on, and after a terrible performance by closer Henry Rodriguez, the Washington Nationals still managed to defeat the Phillies 2-1 in Philadelphia on Monday night.  Gio Gonzalez pitched 6 strong shutout innings, striking out 9 batters and giving up just 3 hits (ERA now 1.98 with a 6-1 record) and Ian Desmond knocked in all the runs for the Nationals who move within a half game on the Braves.

Ian Desmond, finally in a position (5th) that suits his "swinging for the fences" mentality, hit a solo shot in the 2nd then drove in Bryce Harper in the 4th.  Later in that inning the Nationals had the bases loaded with only 1 out, but they failed to score a run.  Rick Ankiel struck out followed by a Jesus Flores groundout.  After that, NOTHING for the remainder of the game.

As Gio approached 100 pitches in the 6th inning he got into a bit of a jam.  He gave up a walk and a double to put runners on 2nd and 3rd with 0 outs.  Davy Johnson kept him in the game.

Rick Ankiel made a diving catch to save the run and get the first out.  Adam LaRoche made an awesome throw to home plate to catch the 2nd out at home.  And Gio escaped alive on a 3rd out popout.

The Nats took the 2-0 lead into the 9th after 2 strong innings by Craig Stammen...That's when OH-Henry showed up...

Henry Rodriguez came in to close the game in the 9th but it was another failed effort by the young pitcher.  Henry threw 2 quick balls and immediately the pitching coach was calling to the bullpen to get some guys warming up.  I've never seen anything that quick.  Two pitches later and it was a 4 ball walk for the Nats interim (and now former) closer.

Overall in the inning Rodriguez threw 12 pitches, 8 of them balls, 2 of them wild pitches that advanced runners.  He got one out when a Philly batter swung for some reason (popout) but was replaced by Burnett after allowing runners on 2nd & 3rd.  The lefty saved the day.  Nats win.

Henry Rodriguez' days as a closer are finished (for now).  We've said that before, but this was the last, last straw.  Look for Stammen or Clippard or Burnett or all 3 to close from here on out.

Notes:  Rick Ankiel only has 1 hit in his last 21 at bats.  His fielding and arm are pretty good, but he may need a little rest.  The Nats also caught a break with Jimmy Rollins out on a quick paternity leave.

FP Quote of the game: I thought talking about how he cheated in whiffle ball as a kid was going to make this, but then he said the following talking about the matchup between Gio Gonzalez and the Phillies hottest hitter Ruiz.  "Gio is gonna pound guys who are hot..."

Phillies again on Tuesday night, same time, same place...Halliday Road...

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