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Gio’s “epic” trip around the bases

Apr 2, 2014, 11:46 PM EDT

AP AP

NEW YORK — As Gio Gonzalez took off for the plate, legs churning, arms flailing, it suddenly became obvious to everyone inside Citi Field that the Nationals pitcher had no idea his drive to deep left-center had been ruled a home run. The ball was no longer in play.

So, when exactly did Gonzalez finally come to that conclusion?

“When I touched home,” he said. “I think it was the fastest home run jog in baseball.”

If it wasn’t the fastest, it might well have been the funniest. Gonzalez’s solo blast in the top of the fifth, the highlight of the Nationals’ 5-1 victory over the Mets, was unconventional to say the least.

Start with the fact the left-hander had crushed Bartolo Colon’s pitch more than 370 feet to left-center field, a rarity in and of itself. Throw in several switching of gears around the bases — he was in a slow trot coming out of the box, then turned it on running to second, then stopped, then ratcheted it up again on his way to third base as the ball lay untouched in left field, then found an even higher gear once he rounded third and saw the finish line within reach.

Then wrap things up with some interaction with a group of fans sitting in the front row right behind the plate — more on that in a moment — and a combination of laughs and gasps for air as Gonzalez returned to a raucous Nationals dugout.

“That was epic,” shortstop Ian Desmond said. “That’s gonna go down in the memory bank for a long, long time.”

The reason Gonzalez felt he needed to sprint? He never saw second base umpire Todd Tichenor give the home run signal, confirming the ball did clear the wall in left-center. All he saw was the ball, which had ricocheted off a railing above the fence, sitting untouched in the outfield, with the Mets’ Andrew Brown not bothering to track it down.

“I was just trying to get a double out of that, and I see the ball rolling all the way, and I saw the left fielder slowing down and I was like: ‘Wait, what is going on here?’ Gonzalez said. “[Third base coach Bobby Henley] is telling me: ‘Run it! Run it! Run it! Keep going!’”

Not until Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud held his arms up did Gonzalez realize he could safely slow down. He was only a few steps from the plate at that point, though, so he just kept going, then started interacting with fans in the front row behind the plate.

“That was my brother, which was even more impressive,” Gonzalez said. “Of all the places, you see him right in front of you. ‘What are you doing here?'”

Gonzalez’s performance on the mound — six innings of 1-run, 3-hit ball — was far more conventional and helped set the tone for the Nationals’ second straight win over New York to open the season.

But the play that will be remembered long after the other details of this game are forgotten surely will be Gonzalez’s mad dash around the bases, an inside-the-park homer trot on an outside-the-park blast.

“Even the bullpen guys were telling me: ‘You were running away like you were running from the cops!’ the lefty said. “I was like: ‘I don’t know what that’s about but, I guess I know what it is now.’ It’s cool when you have everyone cheering like that and having some fun with it.”

  1. natinalsgo - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:52 PM

    Nothing better than the Michael Morse re-do HR trot.

    • natinalsgo - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:52 PM

      This is 2nd best in Nats history.

  2. natinalsgo - Apr 2, 2014 at 11:57 PM

    I remember a High School football coach got in trouble for saying that joke to a student. Probably not a great analogy.

    “Even the bullpen guys were telling me: ‘You were running away like you were running from the cops!’ the lefty said. “I was like: ‘I don’t know what that’s about but, I guess I know what it is now.’ It’s cool when you have everyone cheering like that and having some fun with it.”

  3. Eugene in Oregon - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:05 AM

    Better to run hard when you don’t have to than trot slowly when you should be running. GYFNG!

  4. Chazz - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:19 AM

    WTH is Matty thinking, putting LaRoche cleanup?? Gio should have been in the middle! These managers don’t know half as much as the Internet commentatationizingers.

    • natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2014 at 7:35 AM

      Well played, sir.

  5. Chazz - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:20 AM

    But (semi)seriously, was that in fact the fastest home run trot in MLB? Has to be high on the list for the past few years, no?

    • natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2014 at 7:36 AM

      Check this site later. (April 2 wasn’t up yet when I checked.)

      http://tatertrottracker.com/

      • natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:30 AM

        Oh, wait. I found it on the Tweeter:

        Tater Trot Tracker ‏@TaterTrotTrkr 12h

        Nats pitcher Gio Gonzalez just went deep in Citi, but the ball bounced back. He Wasn’t sure it was out so he sprinted hard. 18.71 sec

      • natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:35 AM

        Found a piece about the TT blog from 2013. According to it, Harper edges out Gio at 18.5, but the piece also cites Adam Rosales at 15.5 and 16.5.

    • natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      Oops. Meant to post the link:

      http://espn.go.com/blog/playbook/tech/post/_/id/4786/the-tale-of-the-tater-trot-tracker

  6. Sonny G 10 - Apr 3, 2014 at 1:45 AM

    See, that’s why pitchers have to run to build up stamina. They never know when they might have to run for an inside-the-park/ outside-the-park home run. Gio was gassed after his HR trot. I was worried he might not do very well pitching after that.

  7. veejh - Apr 3, 2014 at 2:08 AM

    Did you guys see the shot of Gio right before he was rounding 2nd? He was smiling like nothing else. I was laughing my *** off. That was great.

  8. natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2014 at 7:38 AM

    It was funny. My husband was upstairs for much of the game, but came down in the bottom of the 9th. I was like, guess who hit a dinger? He’s like, Zimm? I’m like, guess again – it’s Gio! You have to watch the start of the postgame, because they’re going to show Gio’s dinger. And they did, and it was even funnier that time. :-)

  9. Presidents Race Fan - Apr 3, 2014 at 8:33 AM

    Chicken Mode on full display at Citi Field. Gio rules.

  10. acethehammer - Apr 3, 2014 at 8:43 AM

    Good thing we were playing the Mets instead of the Yankees, or Brian McCann would have had to block Gio from home plate for showing up the pitcher or something.

    • knoxvillenat - Apr 3, 2014 at 8:49 AM

      +1

    • Candide - Apr 3, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      Here’s the real story about Gio’s Dash:

      After Jayson Werth tore him a new one last year for lollygagging on his way to cover first, Gio is scared to death of tangling with the Werewolf again. Werth has that boy scared.

      And y’all are very much mistaken when you say Gio was grinning his way around the basepaths. The expression on his face is technically known as a rictus, a fixed grimace or grin.

  11. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 3, 2014 at 8:52 AM

    is anyone tracking our RISP stats?

    • Faraz Shaikh - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:10 AM

      2/10 last night and 3/6 on opening day so far.

  12. sjm308 - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:16 AM

    That was a fun game to watch and I hardly ever comment during the game but for some reason I had an urge to do so. As always, thanks for putting up with a cranky old man. (I do love Storen!!)

    I realize Gio is not going to be in a lot of running situations but on a serious note, while I appreciate the Mets catcher giving him the heads up and telling him to relax, just think if he was deeking him and the ball was in play.

    Mets are throwing who I think is their best pitcher (this year) in game three and a sweep will not be easy but man are we hitting and pitching well right now. I am wondering if the lineup changes from yesterday? Do you start to work in the bench guys this early in the season? I realize “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” works here but I also realize its a 25 man team and you have to get people involved. The other point is who are you going to rest? Harper – no
    Rendon – no Lobaton – maybe, but I want him catching JZimmnn. So I guess the answer to my question is that you keep the lineup intact, but then the question is, does MW move the pieces again? I think you will see Werth hitting 3rd or 4th all year but you never know what else we will see. Just like the exhib. game with Span hitting 2nd, nothing will surprise me with this new manager.

    As Always

    Go Nats!!

    one last dig – I don’t go back into archives like I think is possible but whoever it was that declared he was switching teams if Danny made the roster, I hope he is enjoying the Mariners, they are actually playing well. And just for the record, if Drew is traded or does poorly or whatever happens, the Nationals will always be my team!!

  13. originalnatsfan - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    I just hope Geo doesn’t try running like that in 90 degree DC or Atlanta weather

  14. Candide - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    on a serious note, while I appreciate the Mets catcher giving him the heads up and telling him to relax, just think if he was deeking him and the ball was in play.

    +1

    That was my thought. Never believe anything anyone on the other team tells you until you know for a fact the play is over.

    And not even then.

  15. TimDz - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:39 AM

    Watching Gio yesterday was like watching Gio 2012….unbridled joy…..
    Makes me think that the steriod investigation must have been weighing on his mind last year….
    A happy Gio is an effective Gio….

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:58 AM

      +1 and the Biogenisis thing was a huge burden. Hard to forget CSN asking about it at the ribbon cutting ceremony at Children’s Hospital.

      On another note, Gio is looking more like Billy Wagner in stature. He really bulked up those quads. Like Stras on Monday, 1st inning was shakey and then slammed the door! Ump was blind and Gio didn’t let it affect him. A+ effort.

  16. sjm308 - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:45 AM

    Good point

  17. Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2014 at 9:59 AM

    Oh sh**, Jordan Z scratched!

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:02 AM

      Just the flu or the conspiracy theory to move him to the Atlanta series.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:05 AM

        hope it is to start against atlanta.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:19 AM

        Faraz, I don’t know who penned a theory of lining up better against the Barves but here’s the conspiracy theory now you get TaylorJ, Stras and JZim this weekend. Whatever the reason that’s good.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:41 AM

        santana, hale, and teheran from their side? i want us to take this series.

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:01 PM

        Me too Faraz.

      • Faraz Shaikh - Apr 3, 2014 at 11:43 AM

        nope, it is hale, teheran, and then wood.

      • natsfan1a - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:14 AM

        I was recovering from a nasty case of the flu last week and we saw/heard a number of people hacking (and I don’t mean at pitches) on our long weekend trip to NYC. I think there are some bugs going around. Also allergy season.

    • Eric - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:10 AM

      Oh man…the last thing I wanted to do this morning is sit around under a cloud of potential bad news about…ZINN!

      Ugh.

      • Eric - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:15 AM

        Oh, nm, I thought “just the flu” was speculation. I am at ease.

  18. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:06 AM

    but I do want us to win today also. JZ was the best chance!

  19. adcwonk - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Mets are throwing who I think is their best pitcher (this year) in game three and a sweep will not be easy but man are we hitting and pitching well right now.

    Last time Nats faced Wheeler, he threw 6 innings and the Nats only scored one.

    But Haren threw six innings of shutout ball! And the Nats went on to win 3-0.

  20. Faraz Shaikh - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    Woah Espi starting, against a righty!

  21. NatsLady - Apr 3, 2014 at 10:17 AM

    My game recap is up. Had fun reviewing this one. ;)

  22. ehay2k - Apr 3, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    One thing about Gio’s run that I haven’t seen discussed here – now with manager-initiated Instant Replay in the mix, if the Mets had challenged and won, and the ball was ruled in play, then by running it out (and by the Mets not throwing home) Gio still would have had a HR. And that would have truly been epic!

    Replay is going to change a lot of things in terms of how the game is played.

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