Notes and observations from Sunday's 6-3 Nationals loss to the San Diego Padres…
Gio gets rocked: It continues to be a tale of two seasons for Gio Gonzalez. The lefty had appeared to turn a corner over his previous two outings before Sunday, but in the Nats' 6-3 loss to the Padres he had one of his rockiest starts of the year so far.
Gonzalez was tagged for six runs, five of them earned, on eight hits, four walks and two HBPs. The 14 baserunners were a season-high. Sunday was the fifth time in his last nine starts that Gonzalez has allowed five or more earned runs in an outing.
Gonzalez had a 1.15 ERA before his appearance on May 7, but in his nine starts since has a 6.14 mark. During that stretch opponents hold a .358 OBP and a .814 OPS against him.
Gonzalez has been the weakest link in the Nats' rotation over the last two months. It hasn't hurt the Nats all that much considering they're 5 1/2 games up in first place, but they need to get him straightened out.
Taylor homers twice: Michael Taylor had been quietly heating up over the last few weeks and on Sunday put in the best game of his career, a four-hit performance highlighted by two home runs. Taylor is now batting a scorching .390 in the month of June with eight runs, four doubles, six RBI and a 1.053 OPS.
Sunday was the third straight game Taylor started for the Nationals and the second time in three days he's played instead of Ben Revere. On one hand, Taylor has earned more playing time with the way he's produced at the plate. But Revere has also been swinging it well with a .340 average over his last 11 outings.
It's ironic that Taylor struggled so much in April when given the opportunity to play everyday, then Revere was slow to get going in May once he returned from injury. Now both are heating up at the exact same time.
Whether a true platoon is starting to develop is not entirely clear, but Taylor is playing a lot more these days than the usual bench player. And whatever you want to call, it's working. Manager Dusty Baker has both Revere and Taylor playing their best baseball of the season right now.
Espinosa hits No. 12: Danny Espinosa also homered on Sunday, a solo shot off Padres starter Drew Pomeranz in the top of the fifth. It was Espinosa's 12th homer of the season, which puts him just one away from his total of 13 last year.
Espinosa now has nine homers in his last 22 games, with a .981 OPS during that stretch. Those nine homers are more than he hit in all of 2014 when he played 114 games. Espinosa is currently tied for third among MLB shortstops with 12 homers and is on pace to club 28 this year.
In June, it hasn't only been home runs for Espinosa. He's getting on base at a .365 clip, holds a 1.001 OPS and leads the Nationals with 15 runs scored. Those are excellent numbers, especially for a guy hitting in the eighth spot most nights.