Washington Nationals: Clutch home runs keep NLDS hopes alive
By Ricky Keeler
Gio Gonzalez does his job
Lost in all of the fun events in the eighth inning last night was that Gio Gonzalez had arguably his best postseason start in a Washington Nationals uniform. While he only went five innings for the third time in six postseason starts, the left-hander didn’t allow the Cubs to get a crooked inning and that’s valuable.
In those five innings, Gonzalez gave up three runs on three hits, struck out six, and walked two on 83 pitches (51 strikes). Those three runs were scored on home runs by Willson Contreras in the second and Anthony Rizzo in the fourth.
After the ball wasn’t flying at all in Game 1, Contreras was able to hit a home run to left to lead off the second. But, Gonzalez kept his composure and got a pair of groundouts to short and a strikeout of Javier Baez to prevent further damage.
The Rizzo home run in the fourth inning had to send shockwaves to Gonzalez. Coming into the game, the Cubs first baseman only had two career hits against him and no extra base hits. But, Gonzalez hung a curveball, which was arguably his best pitch of the night, and Rizzo made him pay.
While the stat line wasn’t as flashy as a top line ace, Gonzalez did a good job of keeping his composure as he ended that fourth inning by getting Ben Zobrist to hit into a double play. It kept the theme of this year going where he didn’t turn a bad inning into a horrible inning.