After stealing a victory from the Phillies last night, the Nationals asserted their dominance today, beating the Phils 7-1, widening their lead in first place, and assuring themselves at least a series victory.
Unfamiliar with Gonzalez, Offense Is Dormant:
– Only two Phillies in today’s lineup–Placido Polanco and Ty Wigginton— had previously faced Gio Gonzalez, and the unfamiliarity was a clear detriment to the offense. The team had the right approach, taking more pitches than they usually do and working deeper counts. Despite those deep counts, they could only muster one walk off Gonzalez in seven innings. Combine that with the four hits and one run they mustered off the left-hander, and it made for a frustrating afternoon. Credit Gonzalez for mixing in a ton of breaking balls, preventing the Phillies from getting very much solid contact.
– It was tough to watch Gonzalez, who was once a Phillies farmhand, pitch today knowing he could’ve been a Phillie. Sometimes when a good prospect is traded, as a fan you reside yourself to the fact that you got a quality player who helped the big club in return (see Michael Bourn traded for Brad Lidge). But the Phillies got Freddy Garcia–who pitched all of 11 starts with the team in 2007–for Gonzalez. Ouch.
– Vance Worley, making his first ever start at Nationals Park, did not look very comfortable today. It wasn’t that his location was off (he only walked two) or that his velocity was down, but his pitches just didn’t have the life they usually do. Sometimes, pitchers just don’t have it, and it was that type of day for Worley. He looked more like Vance than Vanimal.
– After getting ahead of Gio Gonzalez, 0-2, to start the fifth, Worley started to nibble a little bit, and, to his credit, Gonzalez didn’t take the bait. He worked the count full before hitting his first career double to right center. In Worley’s defense, his 2-2 offering to Gonzalez looked to be a strike, but it was borderline. With the pitcher leading off an inning, that’s an out Worley needs to get, and one he needs to get quickly. He let Gonzalez hang around in the at-bat, and it ended up costing him when Jayson Werth came to the plate with two outs and two on and hit a 3-run home run to left. The Nats would tack on one more run with two outs in the inning. If Worley gets Gonzalez, Werth never gets to the plate in that inning, and those four runs aren’t scored (at least not then). That ended up being the difference in the game.
– Let’s face it, Worley was leaving runners on base at a ridiculous clip this season, and he was going to come back to earth eventually. His 95.8 LOB% entering today’s game was the best in baseball, and, frankly, entirely unsustainable. It caught up to him today when he allowed runners on base in each of his six innings. Through the first four, he was able to escape without damage, but the fifth inning, in which he allowed four runs, was simply a product of the law of averages. Worley is a good pitcher, but he’s not a dominant ace, and we’ll see him have a few bad outings to balance out the games where he’s electric.
Bullpen Continues Ineptitude:
– It will probably go unmentioned because the game was out of reach by the time they got into the game, but the Phillies bullpen continues to not get the job done. Outside of Jonathan Papelbon, there isn’t a single guy back there that I trust right now. They allowed two more runs today (both by Joe Savery), and pushed their ERA to 4.43. I understand that there are currently injuries in the ‘pen, but these guys need to get some outs if the Phillies are going to be in close games all season.
– The Phillies have now been beaten by the Nats in seven consecutive games.
– Tomorrow, the Phils will look to avoid the sweep when they send Cole Hamels (3-1, 2.78) to the mound against Jordan Zimmerman (1-2, 1.89). It will be the team’s first appearance on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball this season.
Cliff Lee To Return, Utley Rejoins Team:
– After having no pain while throwing his final bullpen session before today’s game, Cliff Lee is expected to be reinserted into the rotation on Wednesday night when the Phillies take on the Mets.
– Chase Utley rejoined the Phillies early this morning, and is expected to go through workouts with the team until he feels ready to go on a rehab assignment in Clearwater. My guess is he’s back playing with the big club before June 1st.