Nats Record- 12-4
WP- Gonzalez (1-0) LP- Gibson (0-3)
HR- Werth Was (3), Sano Min (3)
STARS OF THE GAME
Third Star(s)- The Bottom of the Nats’ Lineup
Jose Lobaton and Danny Espinosa are known more for their glove work and baseball smarts than they are for their hitting but on Friday, both players contributed significantly at the plate.
Lobaton went 2 for 3 on the day with three RBI and a rare triple to aid Washington’s cause. The three RBI game was the second in Lobaton’s time in Washington, with the first coming last season in the team’s epic 13-12 comeback win at Atlanta on April 28th (Lobaton’s RBI came on a three run homer off of the Braves’ Julio Teheran).
Espinosa had two hits as well and drove in a pair of runs. On the year, the Nats’ shortstop has three two hits games, three games in which he has one hit and ten games in which he’s been held hitless. His left-handed stroke looked good against the Twins last night, so perhaps Friday’s game will help Espinosa start on a hot streak.
Pitcher Gio Gonzalez even helped out, driving in Lobaton with a sacrifice fly in Washington’s three run third inning.
Second Star- Throwing Strikes, Getting Outs
Gonzalez helped out at the plate on Friday, but his real contribution to the Nats’ 12th win in 16 games was on the mound. The lefty allowed Minnesota two earned runs in six innings pitched to pick up his first win of the year, and continued to show that 2016 might be a year of better control for the sometimes erratic hurler. Gonzalez threw 60 strikes in his 90 pitches on the night, and walked only one Twin while striking out eight.
Admittedly the season is young and April numbers don’t always stick but on the year, Gonzalez’s BB/9 mark of 1.9 is well below his previous best of 3.2 set in the 2014 season.
Star of the Game- A Performance “Werth-y” of Praise
With two superb defensive plays in left field and his third home run of the year, Jayson Werth’s play on Friday electrified the crowd at Nationals Park. Werth’s 201st home run of his career was a no-doubt blast to left off of Minnesota’s Michael Tonkin that expanded Washington’s lead to 8-1. Perhaps more impressive than the blast was his leaping grab of a third inning deep shot by Minnesota’s Bryon Buxton that prevented the talented Twins’ centerfielder from registering his first home run of the year.
Valiant in Defeat- A Big Man Hits a Big Fly
Minnesota’s 6’4″ 260 pound right fielder Miguel Sano is built like he could play defensive end for the Vikings, and he punished a Felipe Rivero pitch late in Friday’s game for his third home run of the year. Sano was 2 for 4 on the day.
Another game, and it was another multi-hit effort for Washington’s Daniel Murphy. Murphy went 2 for 4 and scored two runs on the game, padding his Major League leading batting average to .411. Murphy has nine multi-hit games on the year, tying him with Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison, Detroit’s Ian Kinsler and Arizona’s Jean Segura for the Major League lead in that category.
Tanner Roark takes the hill for Washington on Saturday afternoon going up against Minnesota’s Phil Hughes as the Nats try to secure a series win. Roark is 13-8 with a 2.81 ERA in his career at Nationals Park. Hughes is 1-2 on the season with a 4.42 ERA, and is coming off of a 2015 season in which he allowed an American League high 29 home runs. Washington’s Murphy is known as one of the toughest hitters in baseball, but he’s been unable to solve Hughes in his career (Murphy is hitless in eight at bats against the right-hander).