Gio Gonzalez grew up about twenty minutes away from Miami's Marlins Park in Hialeah, Florida. The Washington Nationals' 27-year-old lefty was back home tonight, pitching for Team USA against Puerto Rico in the first game of the 2nd Round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Gonzalez fired a 92 mph fastball in for a strike to the first batter he faced, San Francisco Giants' outfielder Angel Pagan, but gave up a leadoff single to center on an 83 mph 1-1 change. 29-year-old Puerto Rican second baseman Irving Falu, a Kansas City Royals' '03 21st Round pick, popped up a bunt for out no.1, failing to advance the runner/giving up an out. Pagan advanced himself, stealing second safely ahead of a throw from Minnesota Twins' catcher Joe Mauer. Chicago White Sox' outfielder Alex Rios shattered his bat and popped up to the Philadelphia Phillies' Jimmy Rollins at short for out no.2 and St. Louis Cardinals' outfielder Carlos Beltran flew out to the Baltimore Orioles' Adam Jones in center on an 0-1 fastball that ended a 14-pitch, 11-strike opening frame for Gio Gonzalez.
28-year-old right-hander Mario Santiago, a former Kansas City Royals' prospect currently pitching in the LA Dodgers' organization, retired the first two batters he faced in the U.S. first, but a two-out walk to Ryan Braun came back to haunt Santiago when Joe Mauer's two-out double brought Braun around for an early 1-0 U.S. lead.
Cards' catcher Yadier Molina grounded out to short on the first pitch Gio Gonzalez threw in the top of the second. A 93 mph 2-2 four-seamer got Gonzalez a groundout to second from infielder Mike Aviles and a called strike three on a 94 mph 2-2 four-seamer to first baseman Martin Maldonado ended an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 inning after which the U.S. starter had retired six straight batters. 25 pitches in 2.0 IP. Miami's own Giancarlo Stanton doubled with two down in the second, but U.S. DH Ben Zobrist flew to left to end the inning.
31-year-old, one-time White Sock, Indian and Marlin Andy Gonzalez worked the count full in the first at bat of the third, fouled off one 3-2 pitch, then K'd swinging at a 94 mph heater inside for out no.1 and the seventh straight batter set down by Gio Gonzalez. The Team USA lefty reached down for a swinging bunt that rolled toward first off Puerto Rican left fielder Eddie Rosario's bat, but Gonzalez couldn't make the play and U.S. second baseman Brandon Phillips just held it. Gio Gonzalez got Angel Pagan to chase a high heater for a swinging K and out no.2 of the third, and Irving Falu grounded to third baseman David Wright to end Gonzalez's third scoreless. The 19-pitch inning had the Team USA lefty after 44 pitches overall.
The U.S. loaded the bases in the bottom of the third with Brandon Phillips and Ryan Braun singling in succession in front of Joe Mauer, who walked. David Wright grounded into a force at second on a spectacular diving play and throw from Puerto Rico shortstop Mike Aviles, but Phillips scored to make it 2-0 US after three.
A 94 mph 2-1 fastball got Gio Gonzalez a grounder back to the mound from Alex Rios for out no.1 of the fourth. Carlos Beltran flew out to the track in center on a 1-0 fastball in his first AB, then doubled to center on another 1-0 heater the second time up for a one-out, two-base hit. Beltran took third on a Yadier Molina groundout. Mike Aviles thought he'd walked on a low fastball from Gonzalez, then thought he'd doubled (at least) on a fly to right, but Giancarlo Stanton made a nice running grab to end a 14-pitch fourth for Gio Gonzalez with the score still 2-0 Team USA. 4.0 scoreless on 58 pitches for Gonzalez. Puerto Rico's Mario Santiango was at 63 pitches total after a 1-2-3 bottom of the inning.
A 79 mph 0-2 backdoor bender caught the outside corner for a called strike three on Puerto Rico's first baseman Martin Maldonado. 1 down. 4 Ks for Gio Gonzalez in 4.1 IP. A 1-2 curve to Andy Gonzalez got the U.S. lefty a fly to right for out no.2 and Eddie Rosario chased a 1-2 curve into the dirt for out no.3 and K no.5 in 5.0 scoreless. The 11-pitch inning has Gio Gonzalez at 69 total with the pitcher on an 80-pitch limit in his fourth start of the Spring. Team USA loaded the bases on Mario Santiago and knocked him out of the game in the fifth. A one-out RBI single by David Wright off Puerto Rican reliever Andres Santiago made it a 3-0 U.S. lead after five.
That was all for Gio Gonzalez, who left the game with the U.S. up.
Gio Gonzalez's line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 Ks, 69 P, 48 S.