Gio Gonzalez improved to (11-1) in 16 career starts in Citi Field with his win in the New York Mets’ home in April, earning the decision with 5 2⁄3 innings of work on the mound in a 5-2 win for the Washington Nationals. Gonzalez gave up two earned runs in that outing, which left him with a 1.78 ERA and a .179/.256/.268 line against in 101 IP in Flushing, Queens.
Asked yet again, for the umpteenth time what was behind his success in Citi Field, the left-hander said he really (still) didn’t know.
“Might be the weather,” Gonzalez suggested. “Might be the weather. Food, airplanes. I don’t know. It’s a beautiful ballpark. That’s pretty much it.”
Would a return to the Mets’ home ballpark help the left-hander snap out of what’s been a pretty rough stretch of 14 starts (since June 2nd) in which he’d gone (1-8) with a 6.75 ERA, and a .309/.389/.502 line against in 69 1⁄3 IP?
Before we get to the game, Davey Martinez: Why is Gio Gonzalez so good in Citi Field?
“As a player,” Martinez said. “I liked hitting in Baltimore. For some reason I hit well there, so some pitchers do the same thing, they get to a ballpark and they feel comfortable on the mound they feel like they like pitching there, so hopefully we’ll get some good results out of him today and he continues to pitch well here.”
[ed. note - “Martinez said he ‘hit well’ in Oriole Park at Camden Yards. That’s humble-brag-y, as we noted when he said that during the Battle of the Beltways this season. He actually had a .354/.436/.465 line in 31 games and 119 plate appearances in the Orioles’ home.”]
So how did Gio do in Citi Field on Friday night?
Gonzalez fell behind early when Amed Rosario singled, stole second, took third on a ground ball out, and scored on an RBI single by Wilmer Flores in the bottom of the first inning, 1-0.
After giving up the early run, Gonzalez shut the Mets out over the next six innings, working through some foot pain after he took a liner off the laces in the Mets’ sixth, coming back for a scoreless seventh, and completing seven inning for just the seventh time in 26 starts this season, but he received no support as the Nationals were shut out for the 13th time in 2018, 3-0 final.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 Ks, 103 P, 61 S, 4/6 GO/FO.
“Gio was good,” Martinez said after the loss.
“He took a nice line drive off his ankle there, but he said he felt fine. He did really well, really well. I went out there twice, and he’s limping around and he assured me that he could get the outs. So I said, ‘Get’em,’ and he did. So he did really well, kept us in the game, and that’s all we can ask.”
And, why does Gio do so well in Citi Field? The left-hander was asked again after the game.
“It’s a great ballpark,” Gonzalez said, as quoted on MLB.com. “I have this kind of feel for pitching here.”
Gonzalez said he was happy to put together a solid start, which was his third in the last six, as he’s been up and down in the last month-plus, though he ended up taking a loss, for just the second time in 17 career outings in Citi Field.
“It was just one of those games,” Gonzalez said. “I’m happy to turn things around, but I wish I could have been better.”
“I want to show that I can continue to pitch,” he added, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman. “I believe I can pitch up here, and I believe I can pitch against the best.
“I want to play as long as I can. It’s one of those things where I know I can pitch better than I’m pitching right now.”
On the season, the 32-year-old is now (7-11) with a 4.35 ERA, a 4.19 FIP, 67 walks (4.29 BB/9), and 120 Ks (7.68 K/9) in 140 2⁄3 IP.