Everything you could possibly love about Gio Gonzalez (0-1) was on display Friday night. He cruised through six innings against the Phillies, walking two and allowing five hits via an efficient 69 pitches. He mixed up his pitches, starting the Philadelphia hitters off with a variety of pitches: fourseamers, sinkers, a few curves, and a couple of changeups (all according to BrooksBaseball.net). He looked every bit like the 21 game winner from 2012. You know, the guy who finished third in the Cy Young ballot behind my man R.A. Dickey and the man they’ll rename the award after Clayton Kershaw.
Earlier this year, ESPN announced their top left-handed starters and listed Gio eighth. I sort of chuckled at the time. No. That can’t be right. Gio can be good (he can be great) when things are clicking, but when things go bad you sort of have no idea what’s going to happen. Six walks in three innings? That’s possible. Three straight walks followed by him striking out the side? Yep. There’s a good chance. I figured if Gio is listed eighth, then we should bemoan the demise of the quality left-handers.
Friday night, Gio allowed leadoff hits in half of his first six innings, but after singling to start the game Ben Revere was picked off first and Chase Utley grounded into a double play to wipe out a Freddy Galvis leadoff single (3-for-3 on the night, by the way, and hitting .385/.429/.462 in the season’s early going). The only real trouble Gio go into was in the fifth when Andres Blanco started the inning off with a double, but Jerome Williams struck out and Revere then lined into a double play.
Then the seventh inning started, and there was everything that drives you batty about the enigmatic lefty. After Jeff Francoeur1 flew out to left, the professional hitter that is Grady Sizemore worked a walk, and I started to worry. A little. There was one pitch where Gio missed wildly, low and outside, when you could see that maybe things weren’t right. He still threw strikes. He could have easily finished off Sizemore then Cameron Rupp (who also worked a walk) with a few breaks. The walk to Rupp, then Gio hit Blanco with a fastball up and his night was over.
It was a tough loss for Gonzalez. The first six innings were great. The seventh could have gone either way, but unfortunately for the Nats it went the way so many of Gonzalez’s innings often go: in some random, unpredictable direction.
Thoughts on Friday’s game:
I guess this is how it’s going to go for the Nats, offensively that is, until Anthony Rendon and Jayson Werth return to provide a little pop to the lineup. Michael Taylor, who has a little Ron Gant in that swing of his, provided the team’s only run with a homer to start the game. When he fills out and puts on a little more muscle look out. He’ll slug 20+ plus home runs easily. He hit 23 in the minors last year. Anyway, through four games the team has scored just seven runs. Score just enough. Eke out a few wins.
Watch out for Saturday. Cole Hamels is on the mound, and he likes to give lessons in humility and rookie greetings and whatever. After the Nats hit both Blanco and Revere on Friday night, you wonder if Hamels will make a point early on Saturday afternoon. It’s not like he and Harper are buddies.
photo credit: Gio Gonzalez via photopin (license)
- He’s only 31. What? Doesn’t it seem like a Francoeur has been in the Majors forever? Maybe it’s just me. ↩