In an interview with MASN's Dan Kolko a few weeks back, a crisp, well-dressed Gio Gonzalez admitted that he started cutting his hair again on a regular basis as he had in the past after some of his teammates expressed concern with the normally smartly-groomed pitcher's suddenly-disheveled, or slightly unkempt appearance.
Before taking the mound tonight in Busch Stadium, the Washington Nationals' 28-year-old left-hander hadn't faced St. Louis since last October when he allowed six hits, eleven walks and five runs (4.50 ERA) in ten innings in the first two postseason starts of the five-year veteran's major league career against the Cardinals in the NLDS. In his only regular season outing against the Cards before tonight's, however, he held the Cardinals scoreless through nine innings on the mound in Nationals Park in late August last season.
6'6'', 22-year-old Cards' 2012 1st Round right-hander Michael Wacha threw just 10 pitches, nine of them strikes in an efficient, 1-2-3 first tonight in the second game of three between the Cardinals and Nationals. Gio Gonzalez gave up a two-out double off the center field wall by Carlos Beltran in the home-half of the first, but retired the side after 15 pitches when Matt Adams grounded out to Adam LaRoche at first and the covering pitcher. Wacha struck LaRoche out with an 0-2 fastball to end a 15-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the second. Gio Gonzalez's 10-pitch second inning had him up to 25 overall.
Michael Wacha set the Nationals down in order in an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the third that had him up to 35 total after one round with Washington's lineup. Gio Gonzalez had given up just one hit, the double by Carlos Beltran, after one trip through the Cardinals' order before Matt Carpenter hit his 55th double of the year to the left-center gap and just out of the reach of a sprinting Bryce Harper with two down in the bottom of the fourth. Carpenter scored on an RBI single to center by Shane Robinson to make it 1-0 Cardinals after three in St. Louis, Missouri. 24-pitch 3rd. 49 total after three innings in St. Louis for the Nats' lefty.
Denard Span, Ryan Zimmerman and Jayson Werth were the 10th, 11th and 12th straight batters retired by Michael Wacha, whose 10-pitch 4th had him up to 45 total after four hitless innings. St. Louis' big first baseman Matt Adams lined to left for an opposite field single on a 93 mph 1-2 fastball from Gio Gonzalez for the Cardinals' fourth hit of the game off the Nationals' starter. The Cards' fifth hit was an RBI double to right-center by Yadier Molina that scored Adams from first to make it 2-0 over the Nationals. Double no. 42 for Molina, who took third on a groundout in the next at bat and then got thrown out at home by Anthony Rendon on a grounder to second by Jon Jay. Jay reached first on the fielder's choice, but got picked off and tagged in a rundown. 1-3-6-3-5-1-4. 23-pitch 4th for Gonzalez, 72 pitches overall.
Bryce Harper flew out to center. Ian Desmond K'd swinging through a diving 1-2 change. Matt Carpenter was back on the right field grass in the shift with Adam LaRoche up, and he let a sharp grounder get by him and into right for what was ruled a perfect-game ending E4. Michael Wacha went right back to work against Wilson Ramos though, and got a line drive to right for out no.3 of his fifth hitless inning. 19-pitch frame, 64 pitches. 15 of 16 set down.
Gio Gonzalez, 10-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the fifth had him up to 82 pitches.
Michael Wacha was up to 70 after an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 sixth vs the Nationals in Busch Stadium. Gio Gonzalez's 11-pitch, 1-2-3 bottom of the inning had him up to 93. Still 2-0 Cardinals.
Ryan Zimmerman walked to start the Nats' seventh, but Jayson Werth popped up on the first pitch he saw, Bryce Harper K'd swinging through a 1-2 change and Ian Desmond sent a grounder out to second to end a 16-pitch inning that had Michael Wacha up to 86 after seven hitless. Jon Jay singled to center with two down in the Cardinals' seventh, but Gio Gonzalez struck Pete "****ing" Kozma out to end a 17-pitch inning at 110 total.
Adam LaRoche took the second straight leadoff walk from Michael Wacha in the first at bat of the eighth. Wilson Ramos got up 2-0 on the rookie right-hander, but grounded to short to start a 6-4-3. Anthony Rendon stepped in with two out and lined to the left field corner where Shane Robinson tracked it down the third out. Still 2-0 Cardinals. Eight hitless on 99 pitches after a 13-pitch inning.
Drew Storen threw a scoreless bottom of the eighth inning to set up a dramatic ninth.
Steve Lombardozzi stepped in as a pinch hitter and sent the 25th out to short where Pete Kozma handled it. Denard Span fell behind 0-2, got back to 2-2 and K'd looking at a full-count change. Ryan Zimmerman sent a grounder back over the mound for what was ruled an infield single. No no-hitter. Wacha left the game there and Trevor Rosenthal got a groundout to second from Jayson Werth to end the game...
Team from DC has not been no-hit since June 10, 1966, when CLE's Sonny Siebert turned the trick at Senators' expense at Cleveland Stadium.— Nationals PR (@NationalsPR) September 25, 2013
Nationals now 84-74