Gio Gonzalez returned to Miami, FL on Wednesday night to take on a Marlins team he’d beaten three times in four starts this season, (3-0), posting a 1.29 ERA, seven walks and 26 Ks in 28 innings, over which he’d held opposing hitters to a combined .210/.282/.260 line. He took a no-hitter into the ninth in his previous start in Marlins Park back in late July.
Gonzalez retired nine of ten to start the finale with the Fish, working around a walk to complete three hitless innings on 48 pitches.
His second walk of the night was followed by the first hit for the Marlins, on a single to right by Christian Yelich in the bottom of the fourth, and Marcell Ozuna took the third walk of the game in the next at bat, loading the bases with no one out, but a line drive to short off of J.T. Realmuto’s bat got Gonzalez out No. 1.
A swinging K from Tyler Moore got the lefty out No. 2, and a backwards K from Marlins’ third baseman Brian Anderson, on a 91 mph 3-2 fastball inside, got Gonzalez out No. 3 in a 33-pitch frame that left him at 81 pitches total after four.
Ichiro Suzuki (single to center) and Dee Gordon (bunt for a hit), reached on back-to-back, one-out singles in the Marlins’ half of the fifth, but Giancarlo Stanton rolled over a 2-0 change and sent a grounder to short to start an inning-ending 6-4-3.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 101 P, 55 S, 5/2 GO/FO.
Gonzalez started the night with a .142/.237/.186 line against with runners in scoring position in 2017, held the Marlins scoreless through five in what ended up an 8-1 win, and pulled within an out of reaching the 180-inning mark overall, which will trigger a $12M option in his contract for 2018.
That option, FanRag’s Jon Heyman wrote last month, “... which guaranteed a return with a big year, is the reason he left ACES agency for Scott Boras,” since, as Heyman noted, he obviously, “... would have gotten a lot more as a free agent.”
If he can come close to producing the sort of numbers he has this season (2.50 ERA, 3.87 FIP, 69 walks, 3.46 BB/9, 163 Ks, 8.17 K/9), the Nationals will be getting quite a bargain again in 2018.
Nats’ skipper Dusty Baker marveled at the way Gonzalez once again worked his way out of the jams he found himself in against the Marlins, and said he had confidence now that the lefty will work his way out of trouble.
“I wish he didn’t get in them, you know what I mean, and we didn’t have to call upon that confidence,” Baker said, “but he makes the pitches when he needs them and no bigger pitches than with bases loaded.
“We were fortunate to have Realmuto hit that ball because he scalded that ball to Trea, and then struck out the next guy and it was big to go 3-2 on the young kid over there [Anderson], who was one of my favorite guys in Spring Training, when you look at young guys, and threw him some quality pitches.
“He threw a lot of pitches in a short period of time, but he got the victory,” Baker said, noting that there have, “been other games when he threw better and then got a loss or a no decision, so that’s one that we owed him from the past.”
“Gio was effectively wild today,” Baker added. “He was Houdini. He got out of some trouble with some big hitters coming up there, but he made the pitches when he had to, our offense came through for him, and we had a big day and it was a very good series here in Miami.”
Washington took three straight, sweeping the series in Marlins Park, and won their eighth straight game against their NL East rivals, improving to 85-54 overall on the season, and lowering their magic number to six as they head back home.