A funny thing happened on the way to the mismatch. Tony Gonsolin got some rare comeuppance with runners on base, and got handed his first loss of the season by the worst team in baseball. The Nationals beat the Dodgers 4-1 in Monday’s series opener at Dodger Stadium.
Gonsolin had a no-hitter going through four innings — to the extent one can truly have a no-hitter through such an early point in the game — but then had nearly an all-hitter in the fifth.
Staked to a 1-0 lead, Gonsolin surrendered a game-tying home run to lead off the frame to left fielder Yadiel Hernandez. That was the only run of the game to that point for Washington thanks to Gonsolin stranding a pair of leadoff walks earlier in the game. Bearing down with runners on base has been a key factor in Gonsolin’s hot start to this season. Through four innings on Monday, opposing batters had just 13 hits in 115 at-bats with runners on base, a .113 batting average. Getting soft contact is one thing, but his .131 batting average on balls in play in those situations was not sustainable.
The chickens came home to roost after Ehire Adrianza lofted a fly ball single with two outs in the fifth. Victor Robles singled to put runners on the corners, then Cesar Hernández had a flyball single down the left field line out of the reach of Trayce Thompson for the go-ahead run. Juan Soto then grounded a ball just fair inside the first baseline for a two-run triple. The expected batting average on those last two hits, per Baseball Savant, were .270 and .140.
Three straight hits with runners on base plated three runs for the Nationals, and a big inning against Gonsolin, who allowed three runs just once in his first 16 starts, but has allowed a four-run inning in each of his last two games for the Dodgers.
A downturn was bound to happen at some point, but for the most part Gonsolin was fine. If there was any point of concern, it was that Washington swung at 17 of his four-seam fastballs, and didn’t miss one.
That Gonsolin remained in the game is a testament to his growth as a pitcher, and his health. Gonsolin got through six innings for the 10th time this season, something he didn’t do at all in an injury-marred 2021 campaign, and a distance he lasted only five times total in 2019-20.
But you can’t win ‘em all.
Especially when the offense scores once against the team that’s allowed the most runs in baseball.
More on Reyes Moronta’s wild eighth-inning ride on Tuesday morning’s Leading Off with True Blue LA podcast.
Home runs: Trayce Thompson (3); Yadiel Hernandez (7)
WP — Andres Machado (1-0): 1 IP, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts
LP — Tony Gonsolin (11-1): 6 IP, 6 hits, 4 runs, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts
Sv — Kyle Finnegan (3): 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout
It’s a monochromatic pitching matchup on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium (7:10 p.m.; SportsNet LA, MLB Network), with Mitch White on the mound for Los Angeles against old friend Josiah Gray for Washington.