Gio Gonzalez gave up seven hits and five earned runs against the Atlanta Braves in an 8-0 loss last week in Washington, D.C. that began with the Nationals’ lefty striking out the first six batters he retired around two singles (one an RBI hit) and a double before things went pear-shaped in the top of the third.
A walk, single, and three-run HR by Freddie Freeman put the visiting Braves up 4-0, and two doubles in the top of the fourth made it five runs total against the southpaw.
“It was weird to me,” Gonzalez explained after that game, “you get the strikeouts then all of a sudden the hits came in, it was one of those games you just take it for what it was, sweep it under the rug, get ready for tomorrow.
“Just one of those games you can’t really understand what happened, just pick up what you can and go from there.”
That outing left Gonzalez (0-2) with a 6.48 ERA and a .329/.382/.600 line against in three starts and 16 2⁄3 innings against the Braves this season.
Gonzalez took the mound in his fourth start of the season against Atlanta with a 1-0 lead, but it didn’t last long.
Freddie Freeman hit a 1-1 change up in the zone outside out to right field for a two-out solo shot that landed in the second deck in SunTrust Park, 1-1.
Freeman’s blast was just the second home run off Gonzalez by a left-handed hitter this season. As noted above, Freeman has the other one too.
Gonzalez retired ten straight after Freeman’s blast, striking out five, but that streak ended on a Kurt Suzuki home run on a 2-2 changeup in the bottom of the fifth, 2-1.
Suzuki went 1 for 3 with the home run against Gonzalez, leaving him 4 for 10 with two doubles and two homers off the Nats’ left-hander this season.
After working around a walk and a single in a 25-pitch sixth, Gonzalez came back out for the seventh at 94 pitches, and retired the side in order in a 10-pitch frame.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 7.0 IP. 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 Ks, 104 P, 63 S, 6/5 GO/FO.
Washington rallied (with help from some struggling relievers) in a six-run eighth inning that gave Gonzalez, still the pitcher of record at the time, the victory (W, 15-7) in what ended up a 7-3 win.
Gonzalez appeared to be really, really excited about the Nationals’ rally:
Gonzalez talked after the outing about what was different from the last time against Atlanta.
“This time, we were attacking the strike zone,” Gonzalez said, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“We were being more aggressive with the fastball in certain counts, then using the off-speed and curveball when I needed it.”
“Gio stuck around long enough to get the victory,” Dusty Baker told reporters after the game.
“He threw a pretty good game other than those two solo homers. I’m sure he don’t want to see Kurt Suzuki any more, because he’s hit him hard this year.
“His former teammate, I think he thinks along with Gio, cause he caught him. That was a big one for us.”