Nationals beat Reds for series sweep despite poor late inning pitching

Nationals outlast Reds, minus poor pitching in the late innings, to get the series sweep.

CINCINATTI – Ok, stop me if you’re surprised, but another lineup change was issued by Dave Martinez. For the final game of the series against the Cincinnati Reds, here’s how the Nationals lined up:

Adam Eaton LF

Anthony Rendon 3B

Bryce Harper RF

Ryan Zimmerman 1B

Trea Turner SS

Michael Taylor CF

Miguel Montero C

Gio Gonzalez P

Wilmer Difo 2B

No Matt Wieters and Howie Kendrick. Martinez sticks to his word with keeping the bench players involved and continues to experiment with the lineup. A trend he picked up from his time in Chicago, batting the pitcher eighth. With Wilmer Difo in the nine-hole, that essentially allows you to have two lead-off guys. Difo followed by Eaton. There is no wrong way to a lineup and it’s refreshing to see all the new combinations.

During the 2017 season, Gonzalez hit 180 innings which caused his club option for this year to automatically kick in. Gonzalez gets $12M this year and expressed how seriously he is taking it in spring training. He plans to continue his pace from last season where he posted a 2.96 ERA and 1.18 WHIP, which is exceptional for what fans are used to seeing from him. The last time he had numbers close to his 2017 stats was in 2012, his first year with the team. He’s more of an upper 3./4.ERA guy and even if he were to return to that clip, he would still be a vital part of the rotation. He is the only left-handed thrower and there are plenty of teams that struggle with lefty pitching, where he shines.

With that being said, Gonzalez did not disappoint on the mound today and if it weren’t for Bryce Harper not completing a catch at the wall, he would have zero earned runs. He managed to keep the ball down for the most part and had a fantastic day exiting in the seventh inning.

An overall great day for Nats pitching, minus a bit of trouble in the eighth. Historically, Sammy Solis does not fare well on back-to-back days and that still proved to be true. He started great with the first batter Phil Gosselin though it resulted in a walk, but it went downhill following that at bat. The next batter, Billy Hamilton, hit a double which scored a run and he proceeded to walk the next hitter. Solis had zero command – hitting Joey Votto in back as his third consecutive fail to record an out – and after a great day yesterday the only hope is this does not put a dent in his confidence. Ryan Madson was forced to enter the game and as a veteran would, he got a double play that put an end to the high-pressure inning.

Sean Doolittle gave up a two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth that made it one-run game, but the Nationals were able to defeat the Reds. They won the game, 6-5, and have their first series win on the season.

Game Notes:

  • Two home run day for Harper.
  • Eaton continues his torrid hitting with a home run. Finished the day with two hits and two RBI.
  • Doolittle gives up a two-run home run in the ninth inning.
  • Gonzalez gets first win. Finished with seven strikeouts and a 1.50 ERA.
  • Nats sweep the series. 3-0 on season.

Next game is tomorrow, April 2, at 7:35pm against the Atlanta Braves.

Sydnee Williams
Sydnee Williams is the founder of Half Street Sports, covering professional sports in the nations capital. She is the lead Washington Nationals beat writer for FoxSports1340AM. Her words can also be found on All Heels on Deck: a blog that prioritizes women's voices in baseball.