For most of the night, Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez was totally overwhelming. He struck out 10 batters over seven innings of work, and had a stretch where he retired 11 Sox hitters in a row.
1. But one of the few times where Gonzalez–Gio, that is–looked vulnerable for a prolonged stretch was right away in the first inning. Austin Jackson and Jose Abreu waited out back-to-back one-out walks, and right after Michael Taylor robbed Todd Frazier on a lineout to center, Melky Cabrera flipped a breaking ball off the outer edge just beyond Taylor’s diving grasp in the right-center gap to score a pair and grant the Sox an insurmountable lead.
Otherwise mired in an inescapable slump since the beginning of May, Brett Lawrie stepped up as the next batter and ripped a center-cut fastball down the left field line to plate Cabrera, and the Sox were done for the night. They would not collect another hit until the fifth when Cabrera missed a home run by feet in the sixth, but he would be the last Sox baserunner of the night.
2. While Sox hitting took a back seat, Miguel Gonzalez took a starring role. Flashing the ideal location and low-90s heat that marked his best outings against the Royals, Gonzalez was perfect until Daniel Murphy led off the fifth inning with a solo shot into the right field bullpen. After walking five his last time out, Gonzalez didn’t issue a single free pass, and struck out five over six easy innings.
There’s obviously a large need for him to step up in the wake of Mat Latos getting DFA’d, and Gonzalez allayed all fears Thursday night.
With Gonzalez in a runners on second and third, no out jam in the sixth, Saladino fielded a ball deep in the hole and recovered his balance in time to gun down Jose Lobaton at the plate, and Frazier and Lawrie teamed on a crisp around the horn double play to seal the escape. Adam Eaton also tracked down a deep Danny Espinosa drive with a leaping catch at the wall in the eighth.
4. David Robertson is clearly not all the way back, and had to get checked on by Herm Schneider in the middle of his inning of work. After two quick outs, Robertson allowed back-to-back singles to Werth and Harper. Murphy’s deep lineout to left sealed up his first save of June. It’s certainly not high times for the $46 million closer, but a successful outing in his natural setting is a better environment than what he’s been used to the last couple of weeks.
5. The victory brought the Sox back to .500, where they sit a half game back of both Kansas City and Detroit.
Team Record: 30-30
Next game is Friday vs. Kansas City at 7:10pm CT on CSN+
Lead Image Credit: David Banks // USA Today Sports Images