For the second time in three starts, Gio Gonzalez flirted with a no-hitter on Tuesday night. Gonzalez lost a no-hit bid against the Miami Marlins in the ninth back on July 31st.
“He was really focused and very calm and the best I’ve seen him, and the longest I’ve seen him,” Dusty Baker said after what ended up 1-0 win over the Fish in Miami.
Tuesday night, in the nation’s capital, Gonzalez’s no-hit bid ended on an infield single by Los Angeles Angels’ outfielder Cameron Maybin with two out in sixth inning.
“Oh god, I’m over that already,” Gonzalez told reporters, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, after the Nationals’ 3-1 win over the Angels.
“No more of that. If I can just manage to keep going into the fifth, sixth, seventh inning, I’m just happy to see that.”
Over his last five starts heading into the matchup with the Angels, Gonzalez was (3-1), giving up seven earned runs (1.75 ERA), while walking nine (2.25 BB/9), striking out 28 (7.00 K/9), and holding opposing hitters to a .175/.239/.246 line in 36 innings pitched.
Gonzalez’s one loss over that stretch was against the same Angels he faced in the nation’s capital in the first game of a two-game set on Tuesday.
In 5 2⁄3 IP in Anaheim, the southpaw gave up five hits, three walks, and four earned runs in what ended up a 7-0 loss.
“He was wild high, and just barely outside the zone,” Baker told reporters after the Nationals’ loss to the Angels, “... and when you get shut out you don’t really have a chance.”
Howie Kendrick gave Gonzalez a 1-0 lead to work with in the bottom of the third inning in Tuesday’s series opener with the surging Angels in D.C.
Kendrick sent a solo shot to left field after the Nats’ left-handed starter threw three scoreless innings on an efficient 33 pitches.
Gonzalez worked around his second walk of the game in the fourth, getting three ground ball outs in a 17-pitch frame that left him at 50 total, and a 17-pitch fifth pushed him up to 67 pitches.
Maybin singled on a chopper over the mound with two down in the sixth, for LA’s first hit, and Mike Trout followed with the second hit of the game for LA, a single to center in the next at bat.
Gonzalez fell behind Albert Pujols 3-1, and made ball four intentional, loading the bases with two out, but Jefry Marte (.169 AVG when he stepped in) lined out to second, where Daniel Murphy made the catch to end the threat.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 91 P, 49 S, 8/3 GO/FO.
“You could see him get a little bit deflated when they got that infield hit,” Baker said after the Nationals’ 3-1 win over the Angels.
“He regrouped, and fortunately for us — really didn’t want to walk Albert Pujols to put the winning run on base, but he was kind of losing it at that point, and so we took a chance with the young player [Marte] behind him, he hit the ball a ton — and Murph made an outstanding play.”
Baker was watching closely after Gonzalez lost the no-hit bid.
“I saw him take his hat off and walk around,” Baker said.
“Then Mike Trout is always dangerous, especially the game is only 2-0, that’s when you had to regroup and really bear down, but Trout is going to get his hits. You can’t stop him from getting his hits, you just hope that he doesn’t get them in a dangerous RBI situation, which that was to me, because he could have tied that game up, and then it would have really been a downer for the fans and Gio, and all of us. And so then he fell behind Albert, who’s also been dangerous for twenty years. And so that was a very touchy situation to face those dangerous hitters.”
Gonzalez got out of the jam though, and his six scoreless innings left him with a 2.49 ERA, a 3.92 FIP, 61 walks (3.53 BB/9), and 142 Ks (8.32 K/9) in 155 1⁄3 innings pitched overall in 2017, with 1.79 ERA in 75 1⁄3 innings pitched at home this season, which was the lowest home ERA amongst all starters in the majors at the end of the night.
“He’s throwing strikes and he’s getting his curveball — he can throw it upon command and it kind of sets up everything else,” Baker said when asked what was working for his left-hander this season.
“He can throw the fastball in, throw the fastball out, throw the changeup, throw a sinker, he has some weapons that he really feels comfortable throwing to [Matt] Wieters. Him and Wieters are on the same page, and he doesn’t have to do a whole bunch of thinking, just execute and locate because Wieters is doing of the game planning for him, him and Mike Maddux, and so it’s about execution, and tonight we thought he had enough at  pitches, because they were starting to get to him, starting to hit the ball hard, and we thought that was enough.”