Returning to his American League roots, Gio Gonzalez put on a show in Cleveland Friday night. Unfortunately it wasn’t enough as the Indians walked off on a fielders choice in the ninth inning. The offense continued its trend of getting shut down whenever Gonzalez is on the mound, as Cleveland right-hander Justin Masterson limited the Nationals to just 2 hits over seven sterling innings, striking out 10.
While he ultimately was unable to qualify for a victory, Gonzalez was truly dominant against the Tribe. The lefty went seven strong innings, allowing three hits and striking out eight Indians. The hits were never strung together, and Gio never appeared to be out of sync with catcher Kurt Suzuki. The one mistake Gio made was a fourth inning fastball down the heart of the plate that Ryan Raburn lined hard over the right field wall for his eight home run of the year. Gio didn’t let the blow faze him, finishing the fourth and firing three more scoreless innings. After a very rough start to the season in April, Gio has really turned it on as of late, though his record may not show it.
The true shortcoming of the game for the Nats was the offense. They were able to muster just two hits off of the combination of Justin Masterson, Cody Allen, and Joe Smith(3-0). Masterson did walk four, leading to the Nats only run. Suzuki walked to lead off the third, eventually scoring on a Masterson wild pitch. While he did struggle with his command, the Nats were unable to take advantage,striking out ten times. The bullpen tacked on another three strikeouts for an impressive game total of 13 strikeouts.
The bullpen was also unable to contain Cleveland in the ninth. After Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless, albeit messy(two hits and a walk), bottom of the eighth, Davey Johnson sent Fernando Abhad out for the ninth. Mike Aviles started the inning by lining out and it spiraled downwards from there. Drew Stubbs singled and after a Michael Bourne single sent Stubbs to third, a drawn in Adam LaRoche was unable to throw out Cleveland’s speedy right fielder at home plate. The disappointing loss dropped the Nationals back to .500 and 5.5 games behind the Braves in the National League East. While the Braves have been playing badly recently, getting swept by San Diego, Washington’s continued lack of continued success has prevented them from making up significant ground in the division race.