Gio Gonzalez gave up six hits, four walks, and four earned runs in just 3 1⁄3 innings against the San Francisco Giants last week, throwing 97 pitches to the 20 batters he faced before Nationals’ skipper Davey Martinez pulled the plug on the left-hander’s 13th start of 2018.
Washington won the game, however, so Gonzalez extended a personal unbeaten streak to eight-straight outings, in which he put up a 2.44 ERA, 20 walks, 46 Ks, and a .216/.293/.335 line against in 48 innings.
“He just got into too many 3-2 counts, 2-2, 3-2,” Martinez explained.
“He got ahead, just couldn’t finish it off. Those guys are a pretty good lineup over there. You face a lot of right-handed hitters, so those guys they worked the count and they got him up to 3-2 and the pitch count got up.”
Gonzalez was falling behind hitters again Friday night, at least in the third, after he tossed two scoreless on 24 pitches as the Nationals got off to a good start and a 2-0 lead, but for the first time this season, the left-hander gave up two home runs in one game when both Blue Jays’ second baseman Devon Travis and third baseman Yangervis Solarte hit homers on a first-pitch change and 3-0 two-seamer, respectively, with Travis’s a two-run blast and Solarte’s a solo home run that made it 3-2 Jays after three.
An RBI single by Daniel Murphy tied it up at 3-3 in the fifth, and Gonzalez tossed an 18-pitch bottom of the inning, and a scoreless 15-pitch sixth that left him at 94 pitches overall.
Gonzalez came back out for the seventh, and gave up a single by Devon Travis and a fly ball to right by Teoscar Hernandez that Adam Eaton lost in the night sky in Toronto, leading to a ground-rule double once it bounced and went over the wall, putting runners on second and third with no one out.
Justin Miller took over for Gonzalez there and gave up a sac fly by Justin Smoak and a two-run home run by Solarte that put the Jays up 6-3 in what ended up a 6-5 win for Toronto.
Did Martinez consider lifting his starter after six innings and going with Miller from the start in the seventh?
“I really liked what I saw,” he said after the loss. “It’s the bottom of the order, I liked Gio.”
“When he’s down [in the zone], he gets those ground balls. I felt like he could get through that inning and then, tie game, we’d be in good shape. I think he pitched really well.
“We had one fly ball that we didn’t see that kind of changed things real quick, but he pitched well.”
Miller took the mound with 10 2⁄3 scoreless innings in the majors this season (after he threw 13 2⁄3 scoreless at Triple-A before he was called up).
That streak ended with the home run by Solarte.
“He faced a pretty hot hitter in Solarte,” Martinez told reporters.
“And he jammed Smoak, and Smoak’s strong, so he got a sac fly, but I like Miller a lot, so he’s going to be put in situations like that.”
As for the fly ball that Eaton lost?
“It’s hard here,” Martinez, a one-time Blue Jays’ right fielder said. “It really is.
“I played right field here. And as soon as the ball’s hit, you’ve got to keep your eye on it, you can’t take your eye off for a second, or you’ll lose it, and it happened tonight. He didn’t see it at all, so it happened.”
“As soon as it goes up, it’s a pretty helpless feeling,” Eaton told reporters, including MASN’s Mark Zuckerman after the game.
“I’ll be honest with you: I was with Adam on that one,” Gonzalez added. “I didn’t see it at all.
“As soon as he hit it, it completely disappeared. I didn’t see it at all, and I sympathize with him.”
“That’s the beautiful thing about this game,” Martinez said.
“Sometimes those things happen. It doesn’t happen often to Adam Eaton out there but it did and I never saw Solarte hit a home run off of Miller either, and he did, but he’s swinging the bat well, but you know what, I like the fact that we didn’t give up, we came back, we had a chance to tie the game there at the end, and we’ll come back tomorrow, and play again tomorrow.”