Gio Gonzalez was winless in four June starts before Monday night’s outing against the Tampa Bay Rays, with a 6.20 ERA, six walks, 17 Ks, and a .298/.344/.548 line against in 20 1⁄3 innings on the month.
Gonzalez went on a six-start unbeaten streak before the recent downturn, with a 1.43 ERA, 16 walks, 34 Ks, and a .201/.283/.306 line against in 37 2⁄3 innings in those outings.
In the second inning on Monday night, he imploded.
Gonzalez gave up four walks, three hits, (a double, a grand slam, and a single), and a run on a bases-loaded wild pitch (not in that order).
Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez pulled the plug on his outing when it was clear Gonzalez couldn’t slow things down or turn it around.
He was up to 62 pitches with a runner on and no one out in second when Martinez went to the bullpen.
Gonzalez couldn’t find the zone, throwing just 29 of 62 pitches for strikes. It was already 6-0 Rays when he left the game and Tampa Bay went on to an 11-0 win.
“Just wasn’t my night,” Gonzalez said after the game. “Pretty much that was it. Couldn’t get a strike.”
“We had to get him out of there,” Martinez said. “He threw so many pitches in the second inning, I didn’t want to leave him out there.”
“He threw 19 pitches [in the first] and then all of a sudden he comes back and he’s up to 60 pitches,” the manager added.
What’s been different for Gonzalez recently, as compared to earlier this season? Martinez offered the following assessment.
“I told him, early on in the season he was under control. He was using his legs a little bit better, he wasn’t thinking as much, and he was attacking the strike zone, it seems like his last couple outings, that’s gone by the wayside.
“So we have to get him back, get a couple days rest and get him back in the bullpen and try to figure out how to calm him down and slow him down.”
That wasn’t happening on Monday night. Once things started rolling, Gonzalez couldn’t regain his composure.
“He got really quick, that we started noticing, and tried to get [Pedro Severino] to tell him to calm down and relax,” Martinez said, “... but as you guys know, Gio, once that mind goes he just wants to go, and he couldn’t get it together.”
“Just wasn’t my night,” Gonzalez said. “Pretty much that was it. Couldn’t get a strike.”
But there’s nothing wrong physically?
“I’m perfectly fine,” he said.
“Health-wise he’s fine,” Martinez said when he was asked the same.
“Just sometimes it happens,” Gonzalez continued. “It’s part of the game. The unfortunate part is always the taxing the bullpen. That sucks as a starter.
“Definitely one of those things you hold your head [up] as much as you can but you hold a little heavier weight on yourself when you know the bullpen had to carry so much load.
“That’s just the unfortunate thing.
“If it would have gone six or seven innings, six runs, I can live with that.”
“When you get that kind of stuff, and then you tack eight innings on a bullpen that really does not need that stress right now, that’s the part that for me, kills me the most.”