Game in a nutshell: The most-anticipated series in Nationals history got off to a ragged start. A couple of early scoring opportunities were mostly squandered, and Gio Gonzalez got himself into trouble during a two-run third inning. Despite that, the Nats were in the game most of the night and only trailed 2-1 in the seventh. That's when the wheels fell off. Brad Lidge replaced Gonzalez and let three of four batters he faced reach safely, though the key "blow" was an infield single by Derek Jeter that wound up scoring two runs thanks to Ian Desmond' throwing error. Michael Gonzalez then added fuel to the fire by serving up a two-run double to Curtis Granderson. That four-run inning completely turned the game around and left a sellout crowd of 41,406 (that is, everyone not wearing Yankees gear) with little reason to cheer.
Hitting lowlight: You can't realistically expect to hold a thunderous lineup like the Yankees have entirely in check, so the only way the Nationals were going to win this game was with some semblance of a productive lineup. They never got it. The Nats did have a couple of early scoring opportunities. They put two on with one out in the first (and watching as Adam LaRoche and Michael Morse each struck out) and then loaded the bases with one out in the third (getting an RBI single from Morse but then a killer, 6-4-3 double play from Desmond). After that, the Nationals' lineup was completely shut down by the New York pitching staff
Pitching lowlight: Sitting on 107 pitches through six innings, Gio Gonzalez was allowed to start the top of the seventh. But after a leadoff single to Andruw Jones, Davey Johnson came out with the hook. Enter Lidge, who immediately turned a tight ballgame into a mess. It's not that anyone hit the ball hard off Lidge (actually, none of the four batters he faced got the ball out of the infield). But a leadoff walk to Russell Martin set the tone, and after intentionally walking Robinson Cano to load the bases for Jeter, Lidge really found himself in a spot. He got a groundball out of the Yankee captain, but it was perfectly placed and (after Desmond's throwing error) led to a pair of runs scoring for the Yankees. Tough spot for Lidge, but he's got to be able to get out of that situation without so much self-inflicted damage.
Key stat: Entering tonight, the Yankees were 17-0 this season when Alex Rodriguez drove in a run. He recorded an RBI single in the third for New York's first run of the night, and the Yankees went on to win and improve that record to 18-0.
Up next: Game 2 of this series features the emerging Jordan Zimmermann and the ageless Andy Pettitte. First pitch at Nationals Park will be at 1:05 p.m. Saturday.