Nationals starting pitcher Edwin Jackson may have taken the loss, but in the words of manager Davey Johnson, reliever Tom Gorzelanny “took this one on the shin.”
Coming into Thursday, Gorzelanny had a perfect 0.00 ERA in 5 1/3 innings. But with each crack of the bat in a painful sixth inning, those goose eggs ballooned to an unflattering 7.36 ERA.
Gonzalez allowed six runs on eight hits in two innings, and the Nationals fell to the Houston Astros, 11-4.
After Jackson spotted Houston five runs in the opening frame, the Nationals clawed within a run thanks to Ryan Zimmerman’s three-run homerun. But the left-handed reliever endured the same fate as Jackson, surrendering five of his six runs in his first inning on the hill.
“Anytime you give up six runs in a game, that’s a little bit difficult to swallow,” Gorzelanny said. “It doesn’t matter what the [expletive] the score is. You gave up runs. We were still losing and that’s tough. I tried to keep us in the game. It didn’t happen.”
The Astros batted through the order in the sixth, with six recording hits. That included starting pitcher Bud Norris, who singled home two runs to help his own cause.
The display was enough to send many of the 18,045 fans toward the gates before the seventh-inning stretch.
“That’s a case where Gorzo’s got to hold them,” Johnson said. “The bullpen’s been pretty taxed pretty much all year. It wasn’t the case where I was going to throw the kitchen sink at them to try to win that ball game. I want to go into the division series with Miami with not an overburdened pen.”
Johnson said it was “not a usual Gorzelanny outing,” especially against left-handed hitting Matt Downs and Jason Castro.
The same can be said for the rest of the rotation. The Nationals’ staff ranked first in the majors coming into the game with a 1.92 ERA. The 11-run, 17-hit game pushed Washington’s team ERA to 2.54.
However, in a young season where slumps and streaks can cause hundred-point swings in statistics, Johnson added that the Nationals “may have lost the battle, but we didn’t lose the war.”
Gorzelanny echoed the manager: “This is baseball; it always happens. Stuff like this happens. [We’ll] bounce back from it and get over it quickly.”