Washington Nationals’ lefty Gio Gonzalez was frustrated when he was lifted from his start in AT&T Park last week after five-plus innings of work against the Giants in which gave up four hits, three walks, and three earned runs in a 94-pitch outing.
The fact that right-hander Shawn Kelley gave up what was eventually a game-winning home run and suffered an injury after he came on in relief only made it worse for Gonzalez, who said he, “‘100 percent’ believed he should’ve stayed in the game,” as Washington Post beat writer Chelsea Janes reported.
“It sucks, because I want to be out there,” Gonzalez explained, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, after what ended up a 4-2 loss that left the southpaw (2-2) after five starts.
“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.”
Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said he sent Gonzalez out for the sixth in San Francisco with a plan to lift his lefty if anyone reached base.
“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.”
Martinez and his starter discussed the difference of opinion the next day, which Gonzalez said he appreciated.
“It’s beautiful that our skipper speaks to us,” Gonzalez said, according to the WaPost’s Janes.
“It makes a huge difference knowing what’s going on. That was a situation that if people keep to themselves, it’d be a different story. Communication. That’s all we want.
Once we have communication, everything is nice and calm and everything plays out the way it should play out.”
That outing left the 32-year-old left-hander with a 3.04 ERA, a 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 afternoon in the nation’s capital, Gonzalez took on the Arizona Diamondbacks, trying to help the Nationals avoid a sweep in their three-game set in D.C.
He did his part in the finale with the D-backs, throwing seven strong on 114 pitches, striking out eight, and giving up just one run on a sac fly in his final inning of work, before Martinez went to the bullpen. Gonzalez left the mound with the Nationals up 3-1, and they held on for the win.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 Ks, 114 P, 72 S, 7/5 GO/FO.
“He was really good,” Martinez told reporters after the game. “Throwing strikes. We always talk about it. He works good counts, he gets hitters out. And he had really good stuff today.”
The conversation they had between starts was a good one according to both the manager and his starter.
“It’s all about communication,” Martinez said, “and like I told him, I said, we just need to communicate daily and see what we’ve got. But today, I watched him today and he was pounding the strike zone and I felt really good about what he was doing today.
“The walks, the walks are huge for him. When he walks guys that’s not good for him, when he works ahead in the count and gets guys out and get a lot of ground balls, I know he’s doing good and his stuff is very effective.”
Did the talk with Gonzalez influence his decision to let the lefty go to 114 pitches, even after the Diamondbacks put two on and scored the run in the seventh? Martinez said no.
Gonzalez gave up the run on the sac fly then struck David Peralta out with a 2-2 curve on his final pitch of the outing.
“One, he had an extra day, and then two, is like I said, he was getting ground balls, his fastball looked live, his breaking ball was good,” Martinez explained.
“I said, ‘Hey,’ I told [pitching coach Derek Lilliquist], ‘I think he’s really good for 115 pitches today.’ So we were trying to get him through Peralta, and it was perfect.”
Gonzalez said the talk was a positive one for both of them, telling MASN’s Johnny Holliday and Ray Knight that it was all about opening the lines of communication.
“We had a great conversation,” he said.
“We had a sitdown, it’s basically how we were talking to each other, you know this is the first time he gets to know who I am and I get to know who he is, and it was mutual respect and also mutual understanding to what’s going on, so I think I’m happy to say that it worked out in both our favors, and I was just happy to see that I got to go out and continue to pitch and it’s always nice to save a couple arms in the bullpen and that’s what I was trying to do.”