In spite of getting positive results (7.0 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 1 ER) last time out, against the Marlins in Miami, Washington Nationals’ left-hander Gio Gonzalez couldn’t snap a winless streak which stretched back to May 28th.
Over that 10-start stretch, the 32-year-old left-hander put up a 5.94 ERA with 20 walks, 40 Ks, and a .283/.372/.445 line against in 50 innings.
His start against the Fish, Gonzalez said, was a big step.
“It’s definitely progress,” he said, as quoted by MLB.com’s Jamal Collier.
“Moving forward, it’s definitely good progress. Still working on little things, but it’s progress, definitely something positive.”
He was searching for it early on Saturday afternoon, limiting the Reds to one run in a 25-pitch first in spite of the fact that he gave up four hits and a walk in the opening frame.
Three hits in the second, the third a three-run home run by Phillip Ervin, gave Cincinnati a 4-0 lead in the first game of a doubleheader in D.C., and a solo shot by Brandon Dixon made it 5-1 in the third after the Nationals got on the board in the bottom of the second.
A one-out double (by Jose Peraza), a passed ball, and a walk (to Ervin) put runners on the corners for the Reds in the top of the fourth, and a two-out RBI single to center field by Eugenio Suarez made it 6-1 Cincinnati.
That was it for Gonzalez, after he threw a total of 94 pitches in just 3 2⁄3 IP.
Gio Gonzalez’s Line: 3.2 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 Ks, 2 HRs, 94 P, 59 S, 3/2 GO/FO.
“They came out and swung the bats right from the first inning,” Davey Martinez said after what ended up a 7-1 loss.
“[Gonzalez] fell behind a couple times, but they put the ball in play. They really did. We fell behind early, we just couldn’t come back.”
The Nationals’ first-year skipper was asked what he says to Gonzalez to try to get him back on track when things start going wrong like they did on Saturday.
“We pump him up,” Martinez said. “He pitched out of a jam right out of the first inning, gave up one run, and I thought that was great. The wheels could have fell apart right there, and then the next inning he threw a changeup to Irvin, [who] hit it pretty good, three-run homer, so after that you’ve got to kind of stay with him, hope he keeps us in the ballgame at that point. Once his pitch count got way up there, that’s a lot of pitches in four innings, and you’ve got to get him out of there.”
Asked about his own struggles, and what he could do to turn things around, Gonzalez said, “If I knew the answer to that it would be a different outcome.”
“Right now I’m just trying to battle through whatever I’m going through,” he continued.
“And hopefully I start catching my breaks and the tide will change. Unfortunately it’s weird how it’s working. When you fall behind on guys you’re not supposed to be lasting too long, when you get ahead of the guys, you’re not supposed to be out of the game too early.
“So for me it’s hit or miss right now, it’s just damned if you do, damned if you don’t, so it’s just one of those things you’ve just got to battle through it, it’s one of those learning curves of baseball, and you’re going to keep learning from it. The Reds are playing good ball, and they were swinging the bat today, they made a lot of contact.”
Martinez said he needs to get consistent outings from his rotation, which he has in recent weeks, and luckily for the Nats, with two to play today, Wander Suero and Jimmy Cordero were able to eat up the rest of the innings and spare the bullpen from what could have been a long day.
Getting consistent starts, he said, “It’s super-important.
“And we’ve done that up to this point. But we’ve got to continue to get these guys going. Tanner [Roark] is pitching good. Gio has been pitching good up till today.
“[Jeremy Hellickson] has done well. So Helly comes out the second game and keeps us in the game, we’ve got an opportunity to win. It’s huge. The starting pitching comes out and keeps us close, with our offense, the way they’re swinging the bats right now, we could score some runs.”