WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Washington Nationals starting pitcher Tom Gorzelanny has a history of walking a lot of batters and throwing a lot of pitches. It's really what has kept him from becoming a reliable starter in the Major Leagues, as he's been sent to the bullpen at points by each of his previous employers.
But last night against the San Francisco Giants, Gorzelanny turned in a masterful performance. The lefty went eight shut out innings, allowing just three hits and, the most important part, no walks, leading the Nats to a 2-0 win over the defending World Series champs.
"He was just outstanding, very similar to [Jason] Marquis the other night," manager Jim Riggleman said in the post-game. "Really outstanding and good defense behind him. A clean game."
The win secured the series victory as the Nationals took three out of four from the Giants, limiting them to just four runs across the four games. The Nats now embark on a 10-day, nine-game road trip with their season record at an even .500.
Gorzelanny (W, 1-2, 2.93) was helped out by a struggling Giants squad that was swinging early in counts. He threw just 95 pitches in his eight innings, 62 for strikes. He had good movement on his fastball and mixed in a slider that kept the Giants from squaring up on his pitches. Gorzy benefited from seven groundouts, 11 fly ball outs and four strikeouts.
Riggleman explained why he felt Gorzelanny was so effective. "He just seemed to get the ball down and with movement, you could tell from a lot of the swings that the ball's got some movement tonight and he had a good changeup going to keep guys off-balance. He just had it all working."
He also benefited from some really nice outfield defense, as Rick Ankiel and Jerry Hairston both made plays diving back toward the infield on sinking line drives to rob Giants batters of base hits.
Washington got all the offense they needed in the seventh inning against the Giants young left-hander Madison Bumgarner. He matched Gorzelanny out for out up to that point, but four consecutive batters reached for the Nats put two runs on the board.
Wilson Ramos snuck a ball under third baseman Miguel Tejada's glove that originally was ruled a hit and changed to an error post-game. Ian Desmond then laced one to the outfield, moving Ramos to third. Michael Morse, who entered the at bat with one hit in his previous 22 plate appearances, sent the first pitch back up the middle to plate Ramos, and Hairston doubled to the right center gap to drive in Desmond.
It must have been a relief for Morse, who looked at strike three to strand a runner at third his previous at bat. "I know he was disappointed with his previous at bat, you know, man on third," Riggleman said. "I don't know if he got caught looking for something else and Bumgarner made some nice pitches on him. The next time, he was more aggressive and didn't take and was rewarded for it."
In the end, that's all the offense the Nats needed.
Drew Storen entered in the ninth to close the door. He allowed a walk to Buster Posey, but got Pat Burrell to ground to short to end the game and deliver Gorzelanny's first win of the season. Fans wanted to see Gorzelanny return to try to match Marquis' complete game from Saturday night, but Riggleman went to his closer.
"It's wasn't a no-brainer at all, it was a tough call," Riggleman explained. "With all the right-handers coming up I felt if anybody gets on I'm gonna have to take [Gorzelanny] out so let's just let Drew start the inning."
THE GOOD: Gorzelanny. I was as rough as anyone when the Nats traded for the career underachiever during the off-season. So far in 2011, Gorzy is limiting his walks and in five starts he has a 2.93 ERA and 23/9 K/BB ratio in 30.2 IP.
THE BAD: The top four hitters in the order combined to go 0-for-12.
THE UGLY: Danny Espinosa. The rookie is mired in a deep slump (5-for-37 in his last ten games) and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
THE STATS: Four hits, one walk, nine strikeouts. 2-for-5 with RISP, four LOB. No errors.
NEXT GAME: Tuesday at 7:10 pm at Philadelphia Phillies from Citizen's Bank Park. Livan Hernandez (3-2, 3.23) faces Cole Hamels (3-1, 3.13).