On their second night game of the season, the Nationals took on the Houston Astros at Space Coast Stadium in Viera. Gio Gonzalez faced lefty Lucas Harrell in tonight’s match. A lack of offense and two bad innings doomed the Nationals, as they lost to the Astros 7-4. Here are the good, bad, and ugly from tonight’s game.
Through the first five batters, Gio Gonzalez looked unstoppable, mowing down Astros batters left and right. Gonzalez was able to retire Dexter Fowler, Jonathan Villar, Jesus Guzman, Matt Dominguez, and Chris Carter (all of whom will be with the Astros on Opening Day) via the strikeout. His command was on point, and his fastball was overpowering. Unfortunately for Gio, he had to get one more out.
After struggling in his first appearance, Blake Trienen pitched excellently today, going three innings in relief of Gio Gonzalez. While he did walk two and give up two hits, he was able to get out of trouble with three strikeouts including Major Leaguers Dexter Fowler and Jesus Guzman.
Steven Souza Jr. showed off his power today, hitting his first home run of the spring off of Michael Foltynewicz in the bottom of the sixth, shrinking the Astros lead to 5.
Both Aaron Barrett and Tyler Clippard looked strong coming out of the pen, going a combined 2.1 innings with 4 strikeouts, while only allowing 3 batters to reach.
After just being recalled from minor league camp , shortstop Stephen Perez made the most of his appearance tonight, going 2 for 2 with a clutch single in the ninth to keep the Nationals hopes alive.
Jose Lobaton‘s poor Spring at the plate continued tonight, as the backup catcher went 0-2, lowering his batting average to a lowly .091. Lobaton, who has played in 5 games so far this spring, has gone hitless in his last 4 games.
Along with Lobaton both Jamey Carroll and Adam LaRoche were held hitless in tonight’s game.
It was unfortunate that Gio Gonzalez had one more out to get in that second inning. After gave up an infield single to the speedy George Springer, the wheels came off. The next batter, Carlos Corporan, hit a wind-aided home run to give the Astros the 2-1 lead. Then, Gonzalez gave up a walk to former Oriole L.J. Hoes. After the walk, Gio gave up a double to minor leaguer Gregorio Petit, sending Hoes to third. After hitting Dexter Fowler with a stray curveball to load the bases, Gio finally recorded the third out of the inning, getting Jonathan Villar to fly out to center.
This outing couldn’t have been any worse for Rafael Soriano, who in just 2/3 of an inning, managed to give up 5 runs on 5 hits. The nadir of the outing was an RBI infield single to 6-4, 305 pound DH Japhet Amador, on which Soriano himself failed to make the play. Soriano’s fastball velocity was down a tick (he sat around 89-91, according to reports), and his slider was two different kinds of devastating — he threw a biting slider to Springer to strike him out, but threw several others with little to no break. Soriano is notorious for his poor Spring Trainings (he put up an 8.10 ERA in 6.2 IP last March), but his struggles through his first two outings this spring have been a little unsettling.