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WBC Round 2: USA vs. Puerto Rico

Mar 12, 2013, 9:00 PM EST

USA Today Sports Images
Marlins Park hosts the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

The Nationals are off today, but there's still an important baseball game being played involving at least one member of the Nats. Gio Gonzalez will start tonight for Team USA in its second-round opener against Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic.

Gonzalez stayed back in Viera during the tournament's first round, watching the Americans rally late to win Pool D in Phoenix and advance to this round in Miami. He'll be restricted to 80 pitches tonight, so he could go as many or five or six innings depending on his efficiency.

The Puerto Rican lineup features several big-name big-leaguers, headlined by Yadier Molina, Carlos Beltran and Angel Pagan, so Gonzalez will have his work cut out for him. He'll of course have a stacked lineup behind him, with David Wright, Giancarlo Stanton and Co. taking their hacks against Puerto Rico right-hander Mario Santiago, a 28-year-old Dodgers farmhand who has never pitched in the majors.

I'm en route back to Viera for the rest of the spring, but hopefully I'll be able to catch most of the game on TV. In the meantime, enjoy the conversation here…

Where: Marlins Park, Miami
Gametime: 8:05 p.m. EST
TV: MLB Network, ESPN Deportes
Radio: None
Weather: Indoors

SS Jimmy Rollins
2B Brandon Phillips
LF Ryan Braun
C Joe Mauer


  1. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 12, 2013 at 9:12 PM

    Go get 'em Gio!

  2. SCNatsFan - Mar 12, 2013 at 9:19 PM

    So cool to see Gio so pumped about this start

  3. natsfan1a - Mar 12, 2013 at 9:38 PM

    Thanks, Mark, and safe travels if you've not yet arrived in Viera.

  4. Section 222 - Mar 12, 2013 at 9:41 PM

    Gio hasn't been in this big a game since… Game 5. And before that Game 1. His performance in big games isn't that great. I'm hoping he'll keep cool and show them what he's really capable of doing.

  5. SonnyG10 - Mar 12, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    You go, Gio!!!

  6. Sec. 3, My Sofa - Mar 12, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    I'll be happy to see him get a clean 3-and-fly.

  7. sjm308 - Mar 12, 2013 at 10:11 PM

    The pitch limit jumps to 80 or so in this round. I have to think Torre/Maddox have talked to Davey and Gio will not come anywhere near that. Just want to see him control his emotions (and his fastball), and throw strikes and not nibble.

  8. Anna Peregrina - Mar 12, 2013 at 10:51 PM

    Seems to be no way I can either watch or listen in UK — my iPhone is too puny to run MLB AtBat any more ๐Ÿ˜ฆ. My husband's isn't, but I can't seem to get his to acknowledge my account. It's really sad there's no radio.

  9. MicheleS - Mar 12, 2013 at 11:30 PM

    All i want is for Gio to Snap off a wicked curve that strikes out Molina.

  10. Theophilus T. S. - Mar 12, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    Anyone who thinks this game means anything at all need only remember the meteoric career of Shairon Martis.

  11. EmDash - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:18 AM

    Gio's taking the WBC as an opportunity to practice holding a runner on base, it seems – lots of throws over to first. Good to see.There was still a stolen base, but that seemed to me partly to be on a bad throw by Mauer.

  12. UnkyD - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:46 AM

    The nats should furnish all of their leftys with lots of footage of Pettit, picking runners off at 1B, early in his career. He was DEVASTATING!!!

  13. EmDash - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:54 AM

    Oof, Gio fell attempting to field a grounder. Looks like he's okay, though – next pitch was a strike.

  14. MicheleS - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:09 AM

    Excellent outing for GIO tonight.. NO WALKS. And the Nats starters are scoreless through 9 innings!!!!!!!!!!

  15. ehay2k - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:22 AM

    Rollins must not be healthy. If he were, he'd have gotten a hit for sure. Just ask him.

  16. Section 222 - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:53 AM

    Only two U.S. pitchers have gone more than an inning and given up no runs — Det and Gio. Not Dickey. Not Vogelsong. Not Holland. Not any of the relievers. Ok, I know this tournament means nothing, but it's a great time to be a Nats fan.And Marvin Hudson took a pitch right in the mask. My night is complete.

  17. Michael S - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:17 AM

    Gawd thats an ugly ballpark

  18. Michael S - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:18 AM

    Butt ugly

  19. JaneB - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:19 AM

    222, you made me laugh twice.

  20. Section 222 - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:47 AM

    Gio getting big time love from the Billy Ripken and Jerry Manuel on the MLB postgame. And Gio's interview after the game was what we've come to expect. All class, giving credit to his catcher, his defense, the hitters. You da man Gio.

  21. sjm308 - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:50 AM

    I liked several things tonight. No nibbling, he threw strikes. Pitch count was just about perfect and I love that there were zero walks.I have not been a huge fan of the WBC but it has been fun to watch. I am guessing Ross will be ready for the game on Thursday and I am wondering if there is a chance that we would start after the great job he did.

  22. NatsLady - Mar 13, 2013 at 4:06 AM

    sjm, they have already said R.A. Dickey will start on Thursday. I doubt that will change, but Gio pitched like the Ace he is!! After he gave up that first single, he settled, and was in control. Not rushed, just repeating his mechanics over and over again. I'm sure the pro's will write a lot of stories about this, so I just put up his stats…They are lovely to behold.Nats in the WBC

  23. sjm308 - Mar 13, 2013 at 4:12 AM

    Thanks NL, I should have figured that they would try and keep Det on his regular schedule. I guess it would be the same combination in the 3rd game of this round and then the question would be would he or Vogelsong start? Sooner or later we are going to have too many starters to keep everyone on a 5 day rotation but then again, this will be over in a week or so.

  24. NatsLady - Mar 13, 2013 at 4:27 AM

    Sjm, I just read that Thursday is Detwiler's "throw day," so he could pitch.

  25. Section 222 - Mar 13, 2013 at 4:55 AM

    So the championship game of the WBC is Tuesday the 19th, a week from tonight (or actually last night). Dickey is scheduled to start on Thursday. Det could appear that day in relief or could start or pitch on Friday. Gio could pitch again on Sunday or later. If the U.S. wins on Thursday and keeps winning it would play again on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday. If it loses Thursday, to get to the championship game it would have to win on Friday, then play Saturday, either Sunday or Monday, and Tuesday. So including the final game if it wins enough to get there, the U.S. would play either four or five of the six days starting Thursday and going through Tuesday. Here are the first days that our five starting pitchers are available over those six days:Thursday — Dickey, Det, VogelsongFriday — HollandSaturday –Sunday — GioMonday –Tuesday — Dickey (and either Det or Vogelsong if either pitches on Thursday).It will be interesting to see how Torre plays this.

  26. Gonat - Mar 13, 2013 at 11:22 AM

    sjm308 said… I liked several things tonight. No nibbling, he threw strikes. Pitch count was just about perfect and I love that there were zero walks._______________________________I loved his effeciency. 12.9 pitches per inning. Like you said, no nibbling. When his curve is working, its the key.Only 2 balls were hit hard, Beltran's liner to CF and the ball that Stanton took a poor path to.Other than that, it was excellent.

  27. natsfan1a - Mar 13, 2013 at 11:34 AM

    Atta way, Gio! You made us proud. (I stayed up to watch the whole game but went to bed before the postgame show.)

  28. natsfan1a - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:11 PM

    Nice WaPo read on Gio's and Det's takeaways from Greg Maddux as Team USA pitching coach. Here's to both having the opportunity to apply what they learned in big games this October. :-)

  29. sjm308 - Mar 13, 2013 at 12:35 PM

    Just the fact that Gio is working/learning new things is impressive to me. I guess everyone has a way to calm their nerves before something big or exciting but when you are listening to Greg Maddux tell you his secrets, that can't be a bad thing.Go Nats!!

  30. D'Gourds - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:01 PM

    Soooooo encouraging! Gio looked so poised in there last night. His mechanics were spot on. Check out video of him pitching–his head was so locked in toward the plate–no pulling off. As a result, he was always right around the plate and his slider was just filthy. Really fun to watch and it makes me even more excited about this coming season. This is OUR year! World Series or BUST baby!

  31. Andrew - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:11 PM

    Stanton and Zobrist batting 8-9? Joe Torre is senile.Hosmer and Phillips should be cemented in those spots.

  32. Theophilus T. S. - Mar 13, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    I'm a little irked that Gonzalez has to learn a "trick" from Greg Maddux to block out crowd noise in high pressure situations. These guys probably hear the same thing from their regular pitching coaches for years and, suddenly, when Maddux (or some other luminary) says it, it's coming out of a burning bush. It's about time it penetrated — and little late. Anyway, I still hope Maddux succeeds in teaching him how to find the strike zone consistently.

  33. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    Theo, Gio is a kind person. He's always looking to throw praise on others. I think he knew that he had to change his approach in the big games. Its one test and if Maddux really really did teach him something, than "value added" and this WBC will prove invaluable for Gio and Det.

  34. JD - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    I just came back from my trip to Viera and I have a couple of observations: 1) Zim and Harper look to be in mid-season form at the plate. 2) Espi looks very good from both sides of the plate. 3) Everyone seems to be progressing well; Spann and LaRoche are scuffling a bit but I don't getting worried about veterans in spring training. 4) The lineup for the season is obviously set barring any injuries. 5) Stras looked great on Monday; even in the 6th inning the only hard hit ball was a smash to 2nd base which Espi normally handles. 6) JZim was up with his pitches in his last start and was handled easily by the Cards lineup. 7) There is a major drop off from the major league roster to the minor leaguers. I only saw Rendon 1 day + 1 at bat on another but I am not so sure he is as close to ready as people think. 8) Of the minor leaguers I like Walters; Marrero and Owings not so much. I don't think Corey Brown has done enough to merit major league consideration. 9) None of the pitchers vying for the final roster spot have looked remotely impressive; I guess it's Henry by default because of the no- options.10) Soriano, Storen and Clip look great; Matheus pretty good. Stammen and Duke both struggled while we were down there. We spent some time chatting with Nats Jack and NcNatsie and his better half; it was great to meet you guys. Sonny; thanks again for the tickets to Monday's game.

  35. John C. - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Theo, you really have to be looking for something to be irked about to get wound up over that. Gio just pitched a true gem on behalf of Team USA, and we're only 19 days from Opening Day. Go ahead and smile, it's OK ๐Ÿ˜€

  36. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:32 PM

    Andrew said… Stanton and Zobrist batting 8-9? Joe Torre is senile.Hosmer and Phillips should be cemented in those spots. March 13, 2013 9:11 AM Look at Joe Torre's record before he got the NY Yankees. With the Mets he had a .405 Winning %, with the Braves he had a .529 Winning %, with the Cardinals he had a .498% Winning % and only finished 1st one time in 14 years! Then he got fired from the Cardinals and got the Yankees job the following year. Luck?When Joe Torre had sub-par teams, he looked like Jim Riggleman in his W/L results. With the greatest baseball gift bestowed upon him, George Steinbrenner hired Torre to manage a stacked team and he won a few World Series.I've always thought Torre was great on managing big egos but poor on strategy.I agree that Hosmer and Stanton should be flip-flopped in the order.

  37. sjm308 - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    Not to pile on Theo, because I really like his contributions, but I think its great that someone who has been pitching for as many years as Gio still can take advice and learn from it. I don't have facts to back this up but maybe if Daniel Cabrera or Shairon Martis could have learned more, they might still be in the majors. Maybe if HRod can actually learn something new, he might actually help us. I am willing to bet that Dan Haren at 32 had to "learn" how to do different things as his back and hip betrayed him. To me the pros that can continue to learn are the ones you want to have on your team. One more point, a lot of coaches/managers are let go with the statement they had "lost the team" or that the team was not listening to their message. This is exactly why you want to have new blood on the coaching staff. They might be giving the exact same pointers but saying it a different way just might get through or spark a player to think about it.

  38. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:40 PM

    JD said… I just came back from my trip to Viera and I have a couple of observations:2) Espi looks very good from both sides of the plate.I'm hearing the same that in low leverage situations he is looking much better. If he can relax with men on base and especially with runners on 3rd with less than 2 outs, that will be a real improvement.Not sure why they keep moving him around in the order. Let him stay in the 7 hole and stay comfortable.

  39. Theophilus T. S. - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:41 PM

    John C. — I've been irked at Gonzalez since Game 5 and will continue to be irked until he demonstrates composure in a critical situation — probably will have to wait for the post-season for that — and until he stops wobbling around the strike zone after four or five innings. I don't deny his talent (or, Ghost of SteveM, his charming personality) but I wish he'd trade some of his joie d'vivre for a bit more focus on the mound.

  40. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 13, 2013 at 2:52 PM

    Theo, Gio is focuses. Its nerves. His money pitch is his curve. His curve is a touch pitch. When his nerves take over he grips the ball to firmly and it becomes a high pitch count long outing with lots of walks as he then relies on nibbling with his fastball.Last night was huge in my opinion in his progression in big game pitching. He looked incredible. One step at a time.

  41. JD - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:03 PM

    Ghost, When it comes to Espi what I like so far is the better approach. He takes more pitches; spoils more pitches etc. It kind of reminds me of Desi from last year. I could be wrong but I think Espi will have a breakout year this year.

  42. Theophilus T. S. - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:06 PM

    Ghost — Then give him a valium.

  43. UnkyD - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    John C. said…Theo, you really have to be looking for something to be irked about to get wound up over that. Gio just pitched a true gem on behalf of Team USA, and we're only 19 days from Opening Day. Go ahead and smile, it's OK :D————-Amen. A young veteran pitches a gem, exhibiting exactly the qualities you profess to be looking for, Theo, and your response is to stick out your lip, and sling monkey poo? It's cool, though….. Gio's clearly in your doghouse, until such time as he throws 9 innings of one hit, shutout ball, in game 7….. That's a pretty high bar, Bruh….

  44. Ghost Of Steve M. - Mar 13, 2013 at 3:49 PM

    JD, I really hope you're right. He needs to see it hit it. Easier said then done given his adverse swung and missed rates.



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