video thumbnail

WSH@HOU: Gonzalez strikes out nine over six innings

Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez is looking to get his first victory since April 18 against the Cardinals. In his last two starts, Gonzalez picked up no-decisions against the Angels and Astros.

In his start against the Angels, Gonzalez suffered shoulder tightness, but he came right back and pitched six innings and struck out nine hitters against the Astros last Tuesday.

On Sunday, Gonzalez will face the Phillies for the ninth time in his career. He is 5-2 with a 2.66 ERA against Philadelphia.

The Phillies lined up their best three starters to face the Nationals this weekend at Citizens Bank Park, but on Saturday unexpectedly scratched Cole Hamels from Sunday's start in the series finale because of the flu. Right-hander Roberto Hernandez will start in Hamels' place.

Hernandez was scheduled to start Tuesday after being skipped in the rotation last week. The right-hander hasn't started since April 25. Hernandez has since been in the bullpen and made a relief appearance against the Mets on April 29. Manager Ryne Sandberg said Hernandez is still stretched out to start, though.

"He's prepped to go," Sandberg said. "We were staying away from him just knowing how Cole was feeling. We wanted to see how [Hamels] was today, but we stayed away from [Hernandez] last night. He's all good to go."

Phillies: Brown's power outage
Phillies left fielder Domonic Brown hit 23 home runs in the first half of 2013 to make his first National League All-Star team. But he had just four homers after the break just one homer in 216 plate appearances dating back to Aug. 14.

"When you have a first half of the season like he did last year, then it becomes a game of adjustments," Sanberg said. "Pitchers make adjustments and hitters need to make adjustments. But he's not one to take a pitch on the outside corner and pull it to the power side. So that's why it's important for hitters to utilize the whole field and take what the pitcher gives. You have to work as a hitter to make the pitchers come back to you."

Nats: Span needs to get better from the leadoff spot
After ending the season on a high note last year, the Nationals figured center fielder Denard Span would be a solid leadoff hitter in 2014. However, Span is off to a slow start, going 21-for-95 (.221) with a .279 on-base percentage.

Span hopes to get his act together against Hernandez. During his career, Span is 8-for-30 (.267) with a home run and three RBIs against the right-hander.

Worth Noting
• The Phillies had lost a lead or tie in the seventh inning or later 10 times in their first 27 games. They lost six of those 10 games.

• Cody Asche is 14-for 35 (.400) with two home runs and five RBIs against the Nationals during his career.

• The Phillies are 97-70 against the Nationals since 2005.

• Zach Walters is 3-for-14 since his call up to the big leagues. All three of his hits have been home runs.

• Adam LaRoche has a .422 on-base percentage entering Sunday's action against the Phillies. It helps that he has 17 walks in 27 games.

MLB.com Comments