Postgame analysis of the Nationals' 8-4 win over the Minnesota Twins on Friday night at Nats Park:
How it happened: The Nats didn't waste any time making a statement in this one. They put up four runs off Twins starter Kyle Gibson in the bottom of the first inning and added three more in the third. The most remarkable thing about two big early rallies? No home runs were hit, and Bryce Harper was seemingly the only batter in the lineup who didn't come through with a big knock. The Nats would eventually get a long ball, however; Jayson Werth launched a solo shot to left for his third of the season to make it 8-1. The Twins scored three runs late, but the game was mostly out of hand at that point.
What it means: The Nats continue their strong start to the season as they extend their record to 12-4, which as of this post would tie for the best record in the majors along with the Chicago Cubs. They continue to play well against the teams they're supposed to beat, which is a mark of a quality team. They'll need to keep padding their record during this home stand before a tough three-city road trip.
Gio (mostly) cruises again: For much his outing Friday night, Gonzalez has shown why he can be one of the better back-of-the-rotation starters in the league. He handled the Minnesota lineup with relative ease for six innings before being removed from the game after running into trouble in the seventh. Despite that, he still finished with a respectable pitching line: 6-plus innings, 6 hits, 3 runs (2 earned), 1 walk and 8 strikeouts. And even more importantly, he's now strung together three quality performances in a row to start the season.
Werth giveth and taketh away: After taking a day off due to hamstring tightness, Werth returned to the lineup and put together what was perhaps his best effort of the young season. The 36-year-old left fielder showed he still has defensive range in the third inning when he robbed Twins rookie Byron Buxton of a home run, extending his arm while leaping over the left field wall to keep it in the ballpark. Werth followed that up two innings later with a solo home run to extend the Nats lead to 8-1. However, he was taken out of the game in the sixth inning, perhaps because of the recurring hamstring issue. Stay tuned. (UPDATE: Dusty Baker said Werth was removed only as a precaution in an 8-1 game)
Up next: The Nats will look to make it back-to-back victories vs. the Twins as the two clubs will meet for a 1:05 p.m tilt on Saturday. Tanner Roark (1-2, 3.71 ERA) will take the mound hoping to rebound from a rough start in Miami, while Minnesota will counter with Phil Hughes (1-2, 4.42 ERA).