WASHINGTON, D.C.: Gio Gonzalez tossed three scoreless on 37 pitches before he was done for the day in the Washington Nationals and Minnesota Twins’ exhibition game today in Nats Park. It ended up a 3-1 win for the Twins when Nationals’ righty Trevor Gott struggled in the ninth, giving up two hits, two walks, and two runs.
GIO vs MIN: Gio Gonzalez will start the 2018 campaign, his seventh in the nation’s capital, ranked second on the franchise’s all-time wins list for starters, with 79. He leads Nationals’ lefties in innings pitched (1,107 2⁄3), and strikeouts (1,089), with his win total since he was acquired from the Oakland A’s, the sixth-most among left-handers in the majors over that stretch.
Gonzalez ranks fourth among left-handers in opponents’ batting average over that stretch as well (.235 BAA), and he’s coming off a solid season in D.C. which saw him finish sixth in voting for the NL Cy Young. Gonzalez went (15-9) in 32 starts with a 2.96 ERA, 3.93 FIP, 79 walks (3.54 BB/9), 188 Ks (8.42 K/9), and a .213/.298/.345 line against over 201 innings.
In his final tune-up of the Spring this afternoon, the now-32-year-old lefty worked around a single and walk in a 19-pitch first inning, then set eight-straight Twins down to get through three scoreless on 37 pitches before he was done for the day.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 3.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 Ks, 37 P, 26 S, 3/3 GO/FO.
#Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez talks starting his first season as the #Nats skipper + more: "I am excited to be wearing red, I heard from a lot of people saying I look good in red." https://t.co/s8LA9Um0dM— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) March 27, 2018
HERE HE COMES TO SAVE THE DAY: In the bottom of the first, Adam Eaton took his first competitive swings at the plate in Nationals Park since April 28th of last season, popping up to short for the first out of the Nats’ exhibition with the Twins. For Eaton, 29, who suffered a torn ACL and meniscus in his left knee and a high ankle sprain in his left leg lunging and landing awkwardly on the first base bag while running out a grounder early last season, it was a long road back to the batter’s box in D.C.
Nationals’ skipper Dave Martinez told reporters before today’s game that he was watching Eaton all Spring and would handle him carefully while the veteran outfielder gets back on the field in the regular season after missing most of the 2017 campaign.
“We’ll definitely monitor his workload,” Martinez said.
“Towards the end of Spring Training he felt great, and he said every day he went out there he felt a little bit better each and every time, so he’s rip-raring to go, I mean, I talked to him and he said there’s nothing he can’t do right now and point proven is that he ran into a kid with a chair a couple of days ago, and he slid by the wall and caught a ball in foul territory, which, I’m closing my eyes because you don’t know what to expect when a guy comes off an injury like that, but he said, ‘I just keep checking things off the [list], and I keep feeling good,’ but we’ll definitely have to monitor his workload.”
Eaton went 5 for 16 (.313/.353/.500) with a home run, walk, and two Ks in six games this Spring, and 0 for 4 this afternoon in the final exhibition before Opening Day.
BULLPEN: Matt Grace took over on the mound for the Nationals in the fourth, retiring the Twins in order in a 14-pitch frame. Brandon Kintzler needed just 14 pitches in a 1-2-3 fifth, and Sean Doolittle took the mound in the sixth with a 1-0 lead (courtesy of a solo homer to left field by Trea Turner in the bottom of the fifth), and worked around a one-out double for a scoreless, 15-pitch frame.
With great *power* comes great responsibility. pic.twitter.com/fYedEo1s16— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) March 27, 2018
Shawn Kelley got the ball in the seventh, and gave up a game-tying, two-out solo home run by Ehire Adrianza that tied things up at 1-1. The homer was the sixth Kelley’s allowed in nine innings pitched in Grapefruit and exhibition action this Spring.
Kelley gave up 12 homers (4.15 HR/9) in 26 IP last season, after he surrendered nine in 58 IP (1.40 HR/9) in his first season in D.C. in 2016.
Sammy Solis gave up a leadoff single, though the runner was erased when he was caught trying to steal second by Spencer Kieboom, and a two-out double, though the runner was stranded in what ended up an 18-pitch frame.
Trevor Gott, who tossed 11 innings in Grapefruit League action without allowing an earned run, and earned a spot in the Opening Day bullpen, took the mound in the top of the ninth with the score still tied, 1-1, and gave up a single and a walk to the first two batters he faced.
A wild pitch put both runners in scoring position with no one out, but Gott got a grounder to first for the first out of the inning, then issued the second walk of the inning to load the bases with one down. Gott fell behind catcher Mitch Garver, 3-1, and gave up a two-run single to center that put the Twins on top, 3-1.
Final Score: 3-1 Twins