Though he hasn't started in Progressive Field since September 1, 2011 when he held Cleveland to four hits and four walks in seven scoreless frames, former Oakland A's starter Gio Gonzalez is (5-0) with a 0.72 ERA in six starts and 37.0 innings pitched against the Indians over the course of his six-year MLB career. The 27-year-old left-hander is (4-0) with a 0.68 ERA in four starts and 26.2 IP in the Indians' home. The Nationals' starter will make the fifth start of his career in Progressive Field tonight at 7:05 pm EDT. Gonzalez is coming off a six-inning outing last Saturday in D.C. in which he threw 114 pitches and gave up five hits, four walks and three runs, two earned in an extra innings 4-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
Gonzalez threw three scoreless vs the Twins in Nationals Park, but an Adam LaRoche error in the fourth allowed the one unearned run the Nats' starter surrendered to score and an RBI single by Minnesota's second baseman, Brian Dozier, tied the game up at 2-2 a half-inning after the Nationals had jumped out to a lead. An opposite field home run by Joe Mauer in the fifth was the seventh Gonzalez has surrendered in 77.2 IP in 2013, and just the second hit by a left-handed hitter off the Nats' left-hander. The Nationals' 2012 21-game winner wasn't about to blame his defense or blame the bullpen for the loss to the Twins, however.
"These guys, they play hard," Gonzalez told reporters when asked about LaRoche's error at first base. "Every one of these guys, to me, Gold Glove-status. They always make some great plays for me. The ball was hit pretty good. You just tip your cap and move forward. One of those things, you just learn how to turn the page and try to pound the strike zone again."
The Nationals have dropped three straight games Gio Gonzalez has started by scores of 6-2, 2-1 and 4-3, but he wouldn't bite when asked if the lack of offensive support was frustrating. "These guys play hard," Gonzalez reiterated. "To me, individual stuff is nice, but a team win is way better. I think that we had a couple of days off, little rusty myself trying to find the strike zone, but that's definitely not an excuse for myself. I still have to go out there and pound the strike zone. These guys swing the bat really good. I'm happy with our lineup. We've got such a powerful lineup. We're going to find the hits and we'll take off from there."
The Nationals' offense hasn't exactly taken off, but they did win 7-0 the night after Gonzalez last pitched and they have won four of their last five after dropping four or five including the left-hander's start against the Twins.
• Here's the lineup that will take the field behind Gonzalez at 7:05 pm EDT tonight in Progressive Field:
Tonight's lineup at CLE: Span CF, Bernadina LF, Zimmerman DH, LaRoche 1B, Werth RF, Desmond SS, Tracy 3B, Suzuki C, Lombo 2B, Gonzalez P— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) June 14, 2013