In spite of the fact that he gave up just two earned runs total in 13 innings pitched in his last two starts before Thursday night’s, Gio Gonzalez suffered losses in each outing.
The first of the two, a loss to the Chicago Cubs, snapped an eight-start unbeaten streak for the Washington Nationals’ starter, who posted a 2.89 ERA, 25 walks (3.57 BB/9), 68 Ks (9.71 K/9) and a .204/.289/.336 line against in 63 IP over that stretch.
Gonzalez followed that up with a seven-inning start on the road in St. Louis, which saw the southpaw give up just two hits and one earned run in a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals.
His success against the Cards, Gonzalez said, was a result of, “... just mixing the pitches, attacking the strike zone,” and, “being more consistent.”
"There were times I was behind the strike zone,” Gonzalez told reporters, as quoted on MLB.com, “... again that's credit to my catcher [Matt Wieters], he called a good game.”
Wieters was behind the plate again last night when Gonzalez took the mound against the Atlanta Braves, three hours and five minutes after the originally scheduled start time for the series opener in the nation’s capital.
Gonzalez worked around a one-out walk in the second, after a 1-2-3 first, but back-to-back-to-back, two-out hits in the third led to the Braves’ first run, with notorious Nat-killer Freddie Freeman doubling to right-center to drive in a run and get the visiting team on the board, 1-1, after the Nationals struck early.
Kurt Suzuki, who caught Gonzalez in Oakland and Washington, doubled off his former battery mate to start Atlanta’s half of the fourth, taking a 1-0 fastball to right field, and he scored on an RBI single to right by Johan Camargo to put the Braves up, 2-1.
Suzuki then took a first-pitch fastball out to left field in his next at bat, connecting for his seventh home run of the season a half-inning after the Nationals rallied to tie it, 3-2 Braves, after six.
That was it for Gonzalez, who took the loss and has now dropped three straight starts heading into the All-Star Break, in spite of posting a 2.37 ERA and .167/.276/.303 line against in 19 IP over that stretch.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 Ks, 1 HR, 105 P, 70 S, 8/2 GO/FO.
Braves’ first baseman Freddie Freeman, who went 1 for 3 with a double against Gonzalez last night, was impressed with the left-hander.
“Gio has been tough,” Freeman said. “He’s throwing a lot more changeups to lefties. He’s been mixing up his pitches really well. He’s having a great year.”
Gonzalez, who was said to be “perturbed”, told reporters after the game, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, that the delay was unbelievable.
“I’m talking to you at 1:30 in the morning right now,” Gonzalez said. He didn’t blame the delay for his performance, however.
“That’s not the excuse. I should have pitched better. I should have pitched a better game.”
“Gio pitched well,” Dusty Baker said after the long delay and 5-2 loss.
“It’s tougher on the pitcher than it is on anybody, because how do you stay up for that long mentally and turn it on, turn it off. He pitched well, except for — that Suzuki has killed us all year long. Hit the home run to cause Gio to have the loss, but we had some opportunities and, you know, I mean they beat us.”