Gio Gonzalez had an eight-start unbeaten streak snapped in his previous outing before last night’s, in spite of the fact that he gave up just one run on two hits in what ended up a 5-4 loss to Chicago.
In his last nine starts before Saturday night’s in St. Louis, including the loss to the Cubs, the 31-year-old left-hander put up a 3.05 ERA, 23 walks (3.70 BB/9), 59 Ks (9.48 K/9), and a .217/.303/.365 line against in 56 innings.
Gonzalez walked five and gave up a home run to the first batter he faced in the Nats’ loss to the defending World Series champs last week, and he threw 113 pitches total over six innings.
“His outing was good,” Dusty Baker told reporters.
“He threw a lot of pitches, but other than that first-batter home run he threw the ball well against some very tough hitters over there and he gave us a great chance to win.”
“I’m just focusing on that one mistake pitch and turn the page from there,” Gonzalez said, as quoted by MASN’s Byron Kerr.
“But today I have to worry about what I could’ve done better to keep myself strong in the game. That’s exactly it. 3-1 pitch, if I could take it back. He did his job and I made a mistake on my pitch.”
Before the second game of three with the St. Louis Cardinals last night, Baker was asked if Gonzalez, who has a .101/.200/.152 line against in 90 PAs against batters with runners in scoring position this season, reminded him of anyone in his ability to work his way out of jams.
“Houdini,” Baker said, though he did tell reporters before the start vs the Cubs that he hoped Gonzalez would do a better job of avoiding getting into jams to begin with.
Gonzalez took the mound Saturday night in Busch Stadium and threw a relatively quick, 14-pitch first, but one and two-out walks in the second and a grooved 3-2 fastball to rookie infielder Alex Mejia (RBI single) led to the Cards’ first run of the game crossing the plate.
He was up to 84 pitches after five, going deep in a lot of counts, but keeping the Cards off the board after the second to keep it close, at 1-0 St. Louis, and he retired the last eleven batters he faced, and 16 of 17 overall after Mejia’s RBI single in another 113-pitch outing in which he gave up just one run on two hits.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line vs Cardinals: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 Ks, 113 P, 66 S, 8/0 GO/FO.
Gonzalez, once again, passed the credit around when asked about what was working against the Cardinals.
"I think it was just mixing the pitches, attacking the strike zone, being more consistent," Gonzalez said, as quoted on MLB.com.
"There were times I was behind the strike zone, again that's credit to my catcher [Matt Wieters], he called a good game. … Obviously, the defense kept me in the game as long as possible. They made great plays that [if the balls] get through change the whole game."
Gonzalez threw 44 fastballs, according to Brooksbaseball.net, 24 for strikes, getting 18 swings, seven swinging strikes, and 20 strikes not put in play, with a total of 36 curves, 20 for strikes, with 12 swings, five swinging strikes, and 18 strikes not put in play.
He also added in 21 changeups, 14 for strikes, getting 12 swings, four swinging strikes, and nine strikes not put in play, and 12 sinkers, eight for strikes, with four swings, no misses, and nine strikes not put in play.
On the season, the Nationals’ left-hander is now (7-3) with a 2.77 ERA, 4.17 FIP, 47 walks (3.94 BB/90, 104 Ks (8.72 K/9) and a .212/.304/.360 line against in 107 1⁄3 IP.
Will Gonzalez get his third All-Star selection tonight? We’ll find out before the Nats wrap up their series with the Cardinals in St. Louis.