Sep 10, 2013, 12:28 AM EDT
NEW YORK — The ball careened off Zach Lutz’s bat at a 45-degree angle and straight down the first-base line, where Adam LaRoche could only attempt an all-out diving attempt that was just a split-second late. And when the ball landed and left a poof of white chalk, Gio Gonzalez knew his bid for history was up in smoke as well.
There are 1-hitters, and then there are 1-hitters like Gonzalez tossed Monday night to lead the Nationals to a 9-0 thumping of the Mets, where the difference between a spot in the record books and merely a dominant performance came down to that poof of chalk behind first base at Citi Field and umpire John Hirschbeck’s (correct) call of a fair ball and thus a clean base hit in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“I’m begging with [Hirschbeck]: ‘Make something up. Tell ’em I called timeout before the pitch. Or interference. Something,'” a surprisingly disconsolate LaRoche said later. “Ah, it just makes me sick.”
Based on the vibe inside the Nationals’ clubhouse, you might have thought this game had been lost, not won in dominating fashion. The Nats did, after all, club five home runs in the game’s first five innings. They did, after all, win for the 20th time in 29 games to improve to 5 games over the .500 mark, matching their high-water point of the season. And they did, after all, gain a game in the NL Wild Card standings thanks to the Reds’ 2-0 loss to the Cubs, leaving them 7 games back with 19 to play.
Oh, yeah. They also saw Gonzalez toss only the second complete-game, 1-hitter since the Nationals arrived in D.C. nine years ago.
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