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On Washington Nationals’ lefty Gio Gonzalez throwing strikes; early-season success...

Gio Gonzalez weathered an early threat, and returned after a 40-minute rain delay in a solid start against the Phillies last night in D.C.

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Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Gio Gonzalez’s last outing before Friday night’s start against the Philadelphia Phillies was his longest of the season thus far, a seven-inning, 114-pitch outing against Arizona’s D-backs, in which he gave up six hits, two walks, and one earned run in a 3-1 win for Washington.

“He was really good,” Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez told reporters after that game.

“Throwing strikes. We always talk about it. He works good counts, he gets hitters out. And he had really good stuff today.”

That start left the left-hander (3-2) in six starts, with a 2.67 ERA, a 2.62 FIP, 14 walks (3.74 BB/9), 37 Ks (9.89 K/9), and a .254/.324/.356 line against in 33 23 innings pitched.

Gonzalez walked two batters in the first on Friday night against the Phillies, not a good sign at the start, he failed to find the bag on a potential double play, and had a grounder to third base misplayed by Wilmer Difo, but the Nationals’ lefty managed to avoid any real damage in what ended up a 21-pitch first.

Philadelphia Phillies v Washington Nationals Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

It was 3-0 when he took the mound in the second and tossed a 13-pitch, 1-2-3 frame, and 7-0 in the third as the Nationals knocked Philly righty Nick Pivetta out after just 46 pitches in an inning-plus of work. Gonzalez worked a scoreless fourth, and came back out in the fifth after a 40-minute rain delay and worked around a two-out double in a 22-pitch frame that left him at 89 pitches total for the game.

Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 89 P, 55 S, 8/2 GO/FO.

“Gio showed a lot of heart,” Martinez said after the Nationals’ 7-3 win.

“Sitting in the rain delay and coming back out there, and he wanted to stay in the game, and I told him that was good enough, he did well.”

“Just tried to stay loose,” Gonzalez told reporters of waiting out the rain delay, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.

“Constantly stretching. Threw a little bit of catch with [batting practice pitcher] Ali Modami, and we were just seeing how it felt. And it felt fine. I asked the skipper if I can get one more, or just monitor me if you can.”

Gonzalez earned the win, improving to (4-2) on the season with a 2.33 ERA, a 2.58 FIP, 16 walks (3.72 BB/9), 42 Ks (9.78 K/9), and a .237/.310/.340 line against in 38 23 innings.

The key to the Gonzalez’s success early this season?

“The biggest thing with him,” Martinez said, “... and we talked about it all Spring, is throwing strikes. When he’s around the strike zone he gets bad swings, he really does. But he’s got to work ahead.”

Gonzalez threw 20 of 25 fastballs for strikes on the night, according to, and got five swinging strikes, 10 of 23 sinkers for strikes, 13 of 20 changeups, getting nine swings and four whiffs with the change, and 12 of 21 curveballs for strikes, with six swings, and two swinging strikes.

“When he falls behind that’s when he gets into issues. The other thing too, his pitch count has been much better, and I like to see that.”