Washington Nationals’ lefty Gio Gonzalez went 5 1⁄3 innings last time out on the mound before Monday night, giving up eight hits, two walks, and two earned runs in a 97-pitch outing in New York.
Gonzalez finished that start (11-1) overall in his career Citi Field with a 1.78 ERA and a stingy .179/.256/.268 line against in 16 starts and 101 IP in the New York Mets’ home.
Good as he is in Flushing, Queens, Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez said he’s pretty good wherever he pitches.
“He’s really good anywhere really, and he’s competitive,” Martinez told reporters in NY.
“Just as competitive as anybody we’ve got, so he’s going to give us six, seven innings every time he goes out there, and it’s fun to watch. He keeps us in the game.”
While he’s hoping to give the Nationals six or seven innings every time out, Gonzalez had only made it through the sixth once in four starts before last night’s game.
The 32-year-old lefty was starting in AT&T Park on Monday, in his fourth turn in the rotation, and the series opener of the Nationals’ three-game set with the San Francisco Giants.
His numbers in the Giants’ home weren’t quite as impressive: (2-3), 3.95 ERA, .264/.341/.411 line against in seven starts and 41 IP.
Gonzalez tossed three scoreless on 48 pitches to start, but gave up a run in the bottom of the fourth inning when Evan Longoria scored from third on a ground ball to third baseman Wilmer Difo, who threw wide of catcher Matt Wieters at home, 1-1.
The 25-pitch fourth pushed Gonzalez up to 73 pitches overall, and he gave up back-to-back, two-out hits in the fifth, with Andrew McCutchen doubling to left-center on a 2-1 changeup, and scoring on a Buster Posey single to right field, 2-1 Giants.
A leadoff walk to Brandon Belt in the sixth, on his 94th pitch of the night, ended Gonzalez’s outing, but he got one last run tacked on to his line when reliever Shawn Kelley gave up a big, two-run home run to center on a first-pitch fastball up in the zone to Mac Williamson in the next at bat, 4-1 Giants.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 Ks, 94 P, 58 S, 7/3 GO/FO.
Four pitches into his outing, Kelley had to exit with what the Nationals’ skipper later said was an irritated ulnar nerve, which only made it more frustrating for Gonzalez.
“It sucks, because I want to be out there,” Gonzalez said after what ended up a 4-2 loss, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“I want to be the one pitching, giving Shawn that extra rest or that time to get ready. That’s my job. I’m a starting pitcher. If I could go perfect every game, I would. But right now, sometimes I’ve got to hit some walls to break through. Apparently, I’ve just got to some way, somehow convince I can go past five innings.”
His manager said he sent Gonzalez out for the sixth thinking if anyone reached base he’d go to the bullpen.
“One guy on, he was coming out of the game,” Martinez explained. “He gave us a chance to win the game, and he pitched well.”
It was Gonzalez’s second loss in his last three starts, and the Nats’ third straight loss overall, but he said they just have to move on to the next game and he has to get ready for his next turn.
“Just keep your head up and keep going, that’s the only way you can do it,” Gonzalez said, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier. “Can’t dwell in the past, can’t dwell on little things. You just got to keep going.”
The loss left Gonzalez (2-2) in five starts with a 3.04 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 12 walks (4.05 BB/9), 29 Ks (9.79 K/9), and a .259/.333/.374 line against in 26 2⁄3 IP this season, and left the Nationals with a 10-13 record, 5.5 game out in the division they’ve won in each of the last two seasons and four of the last six.