Last night, the Washington Nationals had a dramatic 2-1 walk-off win over the St. Louis Cardinals in ten innings. Lost in the shuffle of the Yunel Escobar home run and the blown save by Drew Storen was the good pitching performance from Gio Gonzalez.
In last night’s no-decision, Gonzlaez went six innings, gave up no runs on eight hits, struck out four batters, and walked four. In four starts against the Cardinals as a member of the Nats, Gio continues to shut down a very good lineup. He is 2-1 vs. the Cardinals with a 0.93 ERA in his career and has given up three combined earned runs in those starts.
It’s tough to say that Gio’s performance could have been better, but it actually could of. One of the problems Gonzalez had last night, which has been an issue at some point for the first three games, is his command. At a few times last night, he would get ahead with two strikes on the hitter, but would have problems putting them away.
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Nevertheless, Gonzalez was able to induce two key double plays in the game, including one on his last hitter of the night, Matt Carpenter, to end the sixth inning. Carpenter did have a hit against Storen, but failed to have a multi-hit game for the first time in a week.
Thru three starts this season, Gonzalez has ten walks, including four walks in two of those starts. His ten walks are tied for third in the National League, trailing only the Rockies’ Eddie Butler and the Padres’ Tyson Ross. Last season, Gonzalez has three games in which he walked four batters. To be fair, one of Gio’s four walks was intentional. That came against Kolten Wong in the fourth inning to get the pitcher, Lance Lynn (who also had four walks last night) to the plate.
After having four walks per nine inning in each of his last two seasons in Oakland, Gonzalez has got those numbers to go down to 3.2 walks per nine last season. However, as Andrew Simon of MLB.com pointed out last night, Gonzalez got into some historic trouble, but somehow kept the Cardinals off the board:
In that first start against the Phillies, Gonzalez could not get himself to fix his command in the seventh inning, which ultimately led to the Phillies coming from behind and winning the game. Gonzalez still had his good stuff last night with his curveball and changeup and he has been able to draw the ground ball outs (10+ groundball outs in each of his first three starts). However, if Gonzalez continues to get himself into trouble repeatedly, it’s not likely he will have the same outcome as last night.