Washington Nationals' Gio Gonzalez Tries To Help Nats Avoid Sweep, Win 20th Game In Atlanta Tonight On ESPN

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 10: Gio Gonzalez #47 of the Washington Nationals walks to the dugout during a game against the New York Mets at Citi Field on September 10, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

The closest thing the "Second Senators" had to a 20-game winner in their eleven seasons in the nation's capital was 16-game winning, 26-year-old, Kenosha, Wisconsin-born right-hander Richard Allen "Dick" Bosman, a former Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants' prospect selected by the Sens in the 1964 Minor League Draft who debuted in the majors with Washington as a 22-year-old in 1966. After he'd gone (14-5) with a 2.19 ERA, 39 BB (1.82 BB/9) and 99 Ks (4.62 K/9) over 31 games, 26 starts and 193.0 IP in what was arguably his best season as a pro in 1969, Bosman put together another strong campaign in 1970, going (16-12) with a 3.00 ERA, 71 walks (2.77 BB/9) and 134 Ks (5.32 K/9) in 36 games, 34 starts and 230.2 IP for the D.C.-based team that would leave for Texas after one more season in the nation's capital in 1971.

As both Washington Examiner writer Brian McNally and Marty Nyland in a post at MASN wrote last week, you have to go back to 1953 to find the last 20-game winner in D.C. baseball history. In '53, Newport, Virginia-born, 29-year-old, Original Senators' right-hander Bob Porterfield was (22-10) with a 3.35 ERA, 73 walks (2.58 BB/9) and 77 Ks (2.72 K/9) in 34 games, 32 starts and 255.0 IP for Washington, winning his 20th start on September 12th in a complete game 13-hitter which the Senators won 3-2 over the Cleveland Indians.

Two years earlier, Porterfield, a former NY Yankees' pitcher, had been acquired by Washington along with pitchers Tom Ferrick and Fred Sanford in a deal that sent left-hander Bob Kuzava to New York. Two years later he'd be dealt away from Washington as part of a nine-player deal that sent Johnny Schmitz, Tom Umphlett and Mickey Vernon to the Boston Red Sox for Al Curtis, Dick Brodowski, Neil Chrisley, Tex Clevenger and Karl Olson. In the 1953 season, however, Porterfield gave Washington, D.C. the last 20-game winner it would see to this day.

Before Porterfield? The last 20-game winner from the nation's capital was a then-34-year-old Roger Wolff, who was 20-10 for the Senators in 1945. Tonight in Atlanta, 26-year-old left-hander Gio Gonzalez has a chance to become the first 20-game winner for a team based in the nation's capital since Porterfield did it 1953 when the lefty takes on the Braves in the finale of the Washington Nationals' three-game set in Turner Field. Gonzalez also has a chance to keep the Nats from being swept out of Atlanta in the final series of the year between the NL East's first and second place team.

The Nationals' left-hander has won three-straight going into tonight's outing, posting a 0.41 ERA over 22.0 IP against the Cardinals, Cubs and Mets. On the year, Gonzalez now has a 2.93 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 68 walks (3.38 BB/9) and 191 Ks (9.48 K/9) in 29 starts and 181.0 IP. Following his last win over the New York Mets last time out, Gonzalez's manager Davey Johnson was asked if he thought Gonzalez deserved consideration for the Cy Young Award.

"No question. No doubt about it, " Johnson told reporters, "You know, I know [R.A.] Dickey will get a lot of attention, but you're talking about a last place club. It's a little different when they're on top and getting all those wins." D.C. GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.'s Holden Kushner and Danny Rouhier earlier this week that he was as impressed as the Nats' skipper with what the pitcher he acquired from Oakland this winter has been able to accomplish in his first season in Washington.

"Gio [has] just taken the next step in his progression," Rizzo said, "And become an All-Star caliber player to an elite-caliber pitcher and a guy that is worthy of the Cy Young Award because he is the guy that down the stretch has been the most consistent pitcher on the team with the best record in baseball. And I think that's what the Cy Young award is supposed to be. The best pitcher on the best team and the guy that's pitching pressure games at the end of the season and not the pitcher, who may be a terrific pitcher, but [is] pitching games that are much less [meaningful] at the end of the year."

What the Washington Nationals really need, however, is for Gio Gonzalez to be the best pitcher in Turner Field tonight as he takes on Braves' lefty Mike Minor and tries to help the Nationals avoid a season-ending sweep in Atlanta. Against the Nats' NL East rivals this year, Gonzalez is (2-1) with a 4.86 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 10 BB (5.40 BB/9), 19 Ks (10.26 K/9) and a .213 BAA in 16.2 IP. Gonzalez is going for his 20th win tonight. The Nationals are looking for their 90th win of the season. Gio Gonzalez takes the mound for the 30th time this season shortly after 8:05 pm EDT on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball.

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