Gio Gonzalez is no joke. Throws a fastball in the mid-90s and has a vicious curve ball. He’s walked too many batters when he’s faced the Yanks in the past but he only walked a pair tonight while striking out eight. The Bombers pushed across two runs against him in the third inning–soft ground ball to right by Alex Rodriguez and a single to left by Nick Swisher–but Gonzalez got tougher as the game went along. His pitch count was up over 100 after six and he didn’t come back for the seventh, despite how well he was pitching.
Phil Hughes, on the other hand, might not have the same kind of dynamic stuff but he continued his recent surge going six, walked two, and struck out nine. He’s challenging hitters these days, changing eye levels with the fastball–hung a couple of curve balls, including one that drove in the Nationals’ first run–but he was impressive. And for the first time this season, he didn’t give up a home run.
Andruw Jones reached base with a seeing-eye-single to start the seventh, ending Gonzalez’s night, and then Dwayne Wise replaced Jones and took off on the first pitch reliever Brad Lidge threw to Russell Martin. He made it without a throw. Lidge hung a slider to Martin on the 1-1 pitch and then Martin fouled off several good pitches before he drew a walk. Jason Nix sacrificed the runners over–Ryan Zimmerman threw him out a first, and he fielded and threw the ball with such quickness and fluidity that made me think what a pleasure it’d be to watch him play defense on a regular basis–and Robinson Cano came to the plate as a pinch hitter.
Cano was intentionally walked and then Derek Jeter fell behind Lidge, missing a couple of good pitches. With the count full, Jeter hit a soft ground ball to short, good enough to score a run. The throw to first hit the dirt and skipped past Adam LaRoche. Another run came home and it would be more than enough for the Yanks who added a couple more on an opposite field double by Curtis Granderson. In the ninth, Grandy hit a solo home run, his 20th of the year.
Cody Eppley pitched a perfect seventh, Clay Rapada a clean eighth and our old pal David Robertson pitched the ninth. He gave up a couple of hits and a run but it was good to see him again. Even better to see the Yanks win another game. They’ve won 17 of their last 21.
Final Score: Yanks 7, Nats 2.
[Photo Credit: Joel Zimmer; Greg Flume/Getty Images]