Gio Gonzalez threw 8 1⁄3 scoreless against Cincinnati in his first second-half outing this past weekend in Great American Ball Park, holding the Reds to four hits and two walks in what ended up a 5-0 win for Washington.
"It was a lot of work -- the second half, coming back and going eight innings,” Gonzalez said, “that's a good way to start the second half. I was pretty exhausted once I got to the ninth inning. That's a strong word, exhausted. I think I was a little — a little more tuneup here and there I just needed to do — but as far as that, I got some work in today, definitely.”
He was also happy that Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker showed faith in him by sending him back out after he finished up the eighth.
“It was good to see that Skip let me go out there in the ninth. I didn’t know I was going out there for the ninth, in the eighth inning I guess I was high-fiving [my teammates], the players did a great job, and then all of a sudden they were like, ‘Keep your guard up, you might be going out there for one more,’ and lo and behold I was out there for one more.”
Baker sent Gonzalez out against left-handed hitting Red Joey Votto, then turned to the bullpen when the left-hander got the first out of the ninth.
“That was as sharp as I’ve seen and the longest he kept his sharpness,” Baker said after the win.
“He had an outstanding breaking ball. He located his fastball well, threw an occasional changeup, and this is a tough offense he faced in a very short ball park.”
Wednesday night, Gonzalez was back in Anaheim, California’s Angel Stadium for the first time since 2011, starting against the LA Angels for the 12th time in his career.
Gonzalez’s command was shaky early, as the first three Angels reached base with an RBI single by Albert Pujols driving in the first run, 1-0, and Mike Trout (who walked) scoring on a sac fly to center by Andrelton Simmons, 2-0, but the Nationals’ starter settled in nicely and worked around singles in the second and third to keep it a two-run deficit.
He was up to 73 pitches after four, with just the two runs allowed, and 87 pitches after five, with seven-straight set down and 11 of 12 retired.
Albert Pujols walked to lead off in the sixth, ending Gonzalez’s streak of retired batters, however, and a 1-2 change to C.J. Cron ended up soaring out to left for a two-run blast that made it 4-0 LAA.
Gonzalez was lifted after a two-out single and walk later in the sixth, having thrown a total of 107 pitches.
• Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 5.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 Ks, 1 HR, 107 P, 61 S, 7/6 GO/FO.
“First inning, was just trying to find a rhythm,” Gonzalez said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, after what ended up a 7-0 loss for the Nats.
“And then after that, I wasn’t as sharp today as I’d like to be, but I managed to fight all the way till the final pitch.”
Gonzalez pointed to the 1-2 changeup up in the zone to C.J. Cron that turned a 2-0 game into a 4-0 game as the turning point in the outing.
“All it took was one pitch that made the difference, and that pitch ended up being a high changeup to the guy that I was two times ahead in the count.”
“He was wild high, and just barely outside the zone,” Baker told reporters.
“When you get shut out you don’t really have a chance, and so I think that’s our second shutout this year and just really didn’t have much of a shot tonight, we didn’t have many baserunners.”