D-backs take rainy win over home-field-chasing Nats
By Jamal Collier and Steve Gilbert
WASHINGTON -- During an interview on a Washington radio station earlier in the day, Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo called left-hander Gio Gonzalez the team's most capable No. 3 starter in the postseason. But in what was likely his final start of what has been an uneven regular season, Gonzalez needed 100 pitches to complete 3 2/3 innings as the D-backs cruised to a 3-0 victory in a 5 1/3-inning, rain-shortened game at Nationals Park on Wednesday night.
"The offense was ready to go," D-backs manager Chip Hale said. "One of things we talked about in the pregame was you never know when you're going to start, whether you're going to start, or how long you're going to play, but you have to be ready to score early."
Gonzalez labored through his outing, allowing three runs on eight hits. In his last seven starts, he owns a 5.66 ERA.
"It wasn't that good, but we didn't score any runs either," Nationals manager Dusty Baker said. "He had a lot of pitches in a short period of time. ... Last night, they were first-ball hitting. Tonight, they were taking, getting deep in the count. They ran his pitch count up. They didn't swing at very many balls and it looked like they were trying to wait on his fastball. He did throw some quality breaking balls tonight, but his pitch count got very, very high in a short period of time."
The game began after a 33-minute rain delay, and lasted until one out in the sixth before the umpires called for the tarp to return. The game was eventually called and the loss kept the Nationals' lead to two games over the Dodgers for home-field advantage in the National League Division Series, with the Dodgers holding the tiebreaker.
Arizona right-hander Shelby Miller ended his season on a high note, holding Washington to five hits across five shutout innings with five strikeouts.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED 200: D-backs second baseman Jean Segura collected hits in his first three at-bats to give him 200 for the season. That is the second-highest total in franchise history, behind the 206 hits that Luis Gonzalez collected in 1999. Gonzalez finished two hits shy of 200 in 2001.
"It means a lot to me, to the organization, to my family," Segura said. "It's a huge number; there are not many players that get to 200 hits in a single season. I feel proud to have done that."
Pitching under tough circumstances: While warming up in the outfield prior to taking the mound, Gonzalez held back his emotions preparing for his first outing since his friend and fellow Cuban-American, Jose Fernandez, died this past Sunday. Gonzalez will leave the team to attend Fernandez's funeral in Miami on Thursday, but asked not to talk about his friend after the game Wednesday.
"It impacts us all," Baker said before the game. "We're a people that respond to emotion, good and bad."
On a good note: Miller's final start of the season was cut short, but he will take a little bit of momentum into the offseason after a dismal first five months of the season. In his final two starts this year, Miller worked 11 scoreless innings.
"It's nice to finish strong," Miller said. "It's definitely something to build on for 2017. These past couple of starts are making me look more forward to that."
WHAT'S NEXT D-backs:Robbie Ray will make his final start of the season Thursday afternoon in the final game of this four-game set at Nationals Park. Ray will be facing the organization that drafted him in the 12th round of the 2010 Draft. Ray spent three seasons in the Nats' system before being dealt to Detroit and then Arizona.
Nationals:Joe Ross (7-5, 3.48 ERA) will make his final start of the regular season, looking to increase his pitch count and stamina in time for a potential postseason start as Washington hosts Arizona for Thursday's series finale at 1:05 p.m. ET at Nationals Park. Ross has looked sharp with nine strikeouts and one walk in his two starts since returning from the disabled list, but he has not thrown a pitch past the third inning in two months.