Answering the bell every single time the Nationals tried to get close on this one, the Dodgers secured a 7-3 win Tuesday behind a strong outing from Tony Gonsolin and the defense behind him, with four different batters chipping in multi-hit games.
Just another evening of Freddie Freeman and J.D. Martinez carrying this lineup to a fine offensive performance. The Dodgers first baseman had four hits, extending his hitting streak to 19 games, with 13 of them having been multi-hit ones. His fourth hit was a home run in the eighth inning.
The Nationals would make it close, with a couple runs in the seventh, but in a game the Dodgers looked almost always in control, the offense scored a couple of insurance runs in the bottom of the inning, as Martinez went dead-center for a two-run bomb.
The Dodgers designated hitter went yard in his third straight game.
The NL MVP award looked like Ronald Acuña Jr.’s to lose in this first third of the year, but Freeman is giving a run for his money, as the first baseman wrapped up tonight with a .344 batting average and 1.005 OPS.
Jason Heyward started the scoring with a solo shot to open up the second inning, and as the Nats offense answered with a run in the third, the Dodgers quickly regained the lead, with a rally of their own, as Max Muncy hit a RBI ground-rule double, setting up second, and third for Martinez and Heyward to drive in both on a sac-fly and RBI single.
In a sea of instability, Gonsolin has cemented himself as old reliable
The Dodgers' issues on the pitching side of things are well documented and amidst the absence of Julio Urías and Dustin May, one of the arms asked to take on a larger role is Tony Gonsolin. In typical Gonsolin fashion, the right-hander quietly delivered another quality start.
Facing the rebuilding Nationals, the Dodgers’ starter mixed things up a little bit, using the curveball as his primary secondary pitch, something very unusual for Gonsolin who’s relied heavily on the slider and splitter, to find success in this last year-plus.
Gonsolin tossed 19 curves for a 27-percent usage on the night,, en route to six innings of one-run ball, allowing only three hits and a base on balls.
There are few things to pick on, as Gonsolin was only able to earn four whiffs on 34 swings, far below his season line of 22.6 percent, and also the fact he got bailed out on more than one occasion by quality glove work from both the infield and outfield, as he surrendered 10 hard-hit balls on the night.
As Alex Vesia gave up two runs in the seventh, seeing the Nationals cut the Dodgers lead to 4-3, it is easy to question the decision of ending Gonsolin’s night at only 70 pitches, but for all the reasons listed above, Roberts was most likely correct in giving his starter the hook.
Fireman Phillips to the rescue once again
At multiple times in the season, the Dodgers have felt the value of being able to use Evan Phillips at will, with the right-hander providing stability through the toughest moments of a ball game.
As the Nationals jumped on Vesia for a couple of runs in his return to the big league club, and threatened to tie the game, with runners on first and second, Roberts turned to his best reliever who got the team out of a jam, getting Joey Meneses to ground to short for the force play.
Late insurance runs changed the tone of this game, but it doesn’t take away from the importance of that single out Phillips got in the seventh frame, not to mention the perfect eighth.
Home runs: Jason Heyward (6), J.D. Martinez (12), Freddie Freeman (10); Keibert Ruiz (5)
WP — Tony Gonsolin (3-1): 6 IP, 3 hits, 1 run, 2 walks, 2 strikeouts
LP — Jake Irvin (1-3): 5 IP, 8 hits, 4 earned runs, 1 walk, 3 strikeouts
The Dodgers go for the sweep Wednesday afternoon (1:10 p.m., SportsNet LA), as Noah Syndergaard will get the ball against a familiar foe in veteran left-hander Patrick Corbin.