Gio Gonzalez did not appear particularly happy after he got New York Mets' outfielder Andrew Brown to fly out to left for the 27th out of Gonzalez's complete game shutout Monday night in Citi Field. Washington's left-hander gave up just one hit, an opposite field single by pinch hitter Zach Lutz in the first at bat of the seventh. And it was just out of Adam LaRoche's reach in spite of a fairly athletic dive by the 2012 Gold Glove winner. And it kicked up dust from the foul line to let first base ump John Hirschbeck know that it was in fact a hit. Gonzalez protested the unfairness of the result, but the call was not really in dispute.
Coming as close as he did to becoming the first pitcher by a D.C.-based team to throw a no-hitter since a then-24-year-old Senators' lefty named Bobby Burke held the Boston Red Sox hitless in a 5-0 win in Griffith Stadium on August 8, 1931 clearly frustrated the Nats' left-hander, who likely had no idea he would have been the first pitcher from the nation's capital to throw a no-hitter in 82 years.
Gonzalez would have been just the third pitcher in Washington, D,C. baseball history to throw a no-hitter alongside Burke and Walter Johnson, who did it once in his 21-year career back on July 1, 1920.
After helping to lead the the Nationals back to the postseason for the first time since 1933 last season, Gonzalez, 27, threatened to make history again on Monday night in New York. Walter Johnson's one career no-hitter took place in a then-eight-year-old Fenway Park where he struck out 10 and ended up one Bucky Harris' error away from a perfect game. Eleven years later, Burke too held the Red Sox hitless while walking five and striking out eight.
Gonzalez walked one Mets' batter in six hitless in which he threw 73 pitches, but his 74th pitch, a 91 mph two-seamer outside, was lined by first by Lutz for the fourth hit of the 27-year-old infielder's major league career. It probably would have been less frustrating if Gonzalez had ended up giving up another hit, but he walked one more, Lutz again in the ninth, and finished nine scoreless on 110 pitches in what ended up a 9-0 Nationals' win and a one-hit shutout.
LaRoche: "I'm begging (ump) 'Make something up. Tell 'em I called timeout before pitch, interference, something.' Ah it just makes me sick."— Amanda Comak (@acomak) September 10, 2013
Gonzalez threw a 17-pitch first against the Mets in the first game of the four-game set between the divisional rivals, but was efficient after that as Nats' skipper Davey Johnson noted after the game. "It was fun watching," Johnson said. He started to think about what was happening and manage as carefully as he could, not wanting to have any thing he did affect Gonzalez.
"You don't want take anybody out," Johnson explained. "We've got a big lead. You don't want to take anybody out. You want to leave your best defense in there. Even with that lead, when he's got a one-hit shutout going, I'm not taking out guys. I just explained to them, 'Boys, we're putting our best foot forward here for this guy, he's pitched a heck of a ballgame. And it was fun to watch."
The one hit allowed was disappointing for the manager too.
"I thought it would be foul," Johnson said, "because I knew we played him to hit the ball the other way and then I looked for the umpire and then he's immediately pointing fair. Then even LaRoche wanted to know where it hit? 'Where'd that thing hit? That had to be foul.' But that's the only guy he couldn't get out in the lineup, he came in late. Lutz."
• AUDIO: Nats Nightly with Dave Nichols from the District Sports Page and FBB's Doghouse:
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