Instant analysis: Nats 10, Brewers 4

Instant analysis: Nats 10, Brewers 4
September 22, 2012, 8:19 pm
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Lone Wolf?

It's been said that Kevin Garnett has been loyal to a fault by continuing his career with Minnesota. While you contemplate this, here's a look at active players who have spent the most consecutive seasons with one NBA team.

Most Loyal of Ballers

PlayerTeamSeasons
Kevin Garnett Timberwolves 12
Kevin Garnett Timberwolves 12
Kevin Garnett Timberwolves 12
Kevin Garnett Timberwolves 12

Game in a nutshell: Only one word, really, is needed to put this game in a nutshell: Domination. Gio Gonzalez dominated the Brewers lineup, allowing two unearned runs over seven standout innings to become the first 20-game winner in the majors this season. The Nationals' lineup dominated Milwaukee's pitching, busting out with three homers and 13 hits. And the bullpen closed the door on a lopsided victory, one that moves the Nats one step closer to the NL East title. For the moment, they lead the division by 6 games over the Braves (who just got underway in Philadelphia). Their magic number to clinch is also down to 6.

Hitting highlight: How impressive was the Nationals' offensive performance today? Consider this fact: Their 1-through-7 hitters successfully reached base in 20 of their first 26 plate appearances. Poor Kurt Suzuki, who went 0-for-4 as the No. 8 hitter and didn't get to join the party. Everyone else did plenty to make up for it. Adam LaRoche went 3-for-4 and came up a triple short of the cycle. Ian Desmond went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs. Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper each reached base three times. Michal Morse reached base four times. They gave old pal Livan Hernandez a beating in the bottom of the fourth, scoring six times via a pair of three-run homers. (Guess Livo will help the Nationals win a division title after all.)

Pitching highlight: Obviously, it's easy to pitch with a 9-run lead. But Gonzalez was superb from the moment he took the mound this afternoon. He needed only 48 pitches to complete four scoreless innings, throwing a whopping 34 strikes. He issued only one walk and struck out five. And the only two runs he ultimately surrendered were unearned because of Bryce Harper's misplays in center field. Ultimately, this start will be remembered for Gonzalez reaching two big milestones. He earned his 20th win, becoming the first Washington pitcher to do that since Bob Porterfield in 1953. And he recorded his 200th strikeout, becoming the first Washington pitcher to do that since ... Walter Johnson in 1916(?!). Gonzalez is still scheduled to make two more starts in the regular season. With a strong finish, he's certainly going to be a strong candidate for NL Cy Young Award honors.

Key stat: LaRoche now has 32 homers for the season (matching his career high) and 98 RBI (two shy of his career high).