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Gio stumbles again in Nats’ loss

Aug 1, 2014, 12:13 AM EST

Photo by USA Today Photo by USA Today

In what has been the most inconsistent season of Gio Gonzalez’ career in Washington – and so far his worst overall since 2009 – the ups and downs have been dramatic and steep.

When Gio is on, he’s looked like the two-time All-Star whose career ERA is 3.59. Putting together an extended stretch of strong outings, however, has been a challenge.

In Thursday’s 10-4 loss to the Phillies, Gonzalez lasted just 3 2/3 innings before Matt Williams pulled the plug. Gonzalez walked off the mound shouting into his glove with five earned runs on the scoresheet.

“It was just that kind of night,” he said. “Nothing was going our way. You’ve just got to grind through it.”

Gio is right about that. In a game the Nationals lost by six runs, a five-run fourth for Philly was the big haymaker. But throughout the game there was a litany of defensive mistakes committed by Nats infielders and plenty of well-placed hits by the Phillies.

Gonzalez’ forgetful fourth inning began with two singles by Marlon Byrd and Carlos Ruiz, before Grady Sizemore snapped a double off the wall in right-center to score both baserunners.

Gonzalez gave Sizemore six straight fastballs, the final a 93 mile per hour four-seamer. Though it was the biggest hit of the night against Gio, he thought it was a well-executed pitch.

“Even the pitch I threw to Sizemore, I thought it was a good pitch down and he still got it. He got some good wood on it. You just tip your cap. Sometimes it goes that way.”

In his 3 2/3 innings, Gonzalez allowed eight hits and a walk. Of the eight hits, seven of them were singles. The Phillies weren’t crushing the ball, but the hits were falling.

Catcher Wilson Ramos gave his diagnosis:

“There was a lot of pitches in the middle of the zone,” he said. “That was the problem today. A lot of pitches up in the zone, too. So those guys hit the ball well, all the credit for them.”

Gonzalez now sits 6-7 on the year with a 3.88 ERA through 17 starts, a stretch of 97 1/3 innings.  Of his 17 outings this year, 10 have been quality starts, but only once has he put together more than two in a row.

Five times already this year he has allowed four earned runs or more. In 2013 he did it seven times total in 32 starts, in 2012 it was just six times in 32 starts.

Gonzalez did deal with his first stint on the disabled list this season when he went down in mid-May with shoulder inflammation, but that was eight starts ago. Gio is healthy, he just isn’t pitching like the Nationals are used to.

“He’s fine,” Williams said. “There’s no issue with his shoulder or anything like that. He’s just off.”

“You’ve just got to keep grinding through it,” Gonzalez explained. “Hopefully, something snaps and it goes your way.”

  1. Ghost of Steve M. - Aug 1, 2014 at 12:29 AM

    Yadda, yadda, yadda

    • stoatva - Aug 1, 2014 at 12:35 AM

      “Just keep grinding, dude. That’s baseball.”

  2. stoatva - Aug 1, 2014 at 12:32 AM

    So apparently my postseason tickets would be in 204, Row D. That’s not too bad. I mean, the whole thing is extortionate, but whaddya gonna do?

    • Section 222 - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:59 AM

      Where are your normal seats? As I understand it, full season SPHs get their seats. But obviously, they can’t do that for all the partial plans. I was told that last season (hahaha) they were giving partial season SPHs from the Infield Gallery tix underneath the scoreboard. I guess it all depends on how fully subscribed a zone is with SPHs.

  3. stoatva - Aug 1, 2014 at 12:36 AM

    Oops. Don’t look now, but the Braves are stirring.

  4. David Proctor - Aug 1, 2014 at 12:39 AM

    Kershaw nibbling now…

  5. stoatva - Aug 1, 2014 at 12:43 AM

    I’m saying “safe.”

  6. Eric - Aug 1, 2014 at 1:24 AM

    Not sure what the beef is with “grinding” as a cliche. When you’re underperforming, and you’re not injured, what else can you do until you’re optioned, traded, designated for assignment, or back on track? Mail it in?

    • bowdenball - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:38 AM

      Pretty funny, right? Not sure what these folks expect the players to say exactly.

      • stoatva - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:46 AM

        It’s just that it’s the cliche of the moment that turns up in everyone’s mouth at the same time, for a while. Like “find a pitch to drive” or “attack the zone” or “trust my stuff.”

      • bowdenball - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:51 AM

        Yeah, but why does it bother people? What exactly do you expect them to say? “Sorry, Nats fans. I wasn’t trying hard today because I just don’t care. Here’s my email address, get in touch with me and I’ll refund your ticket money.”

      • Eric - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:55 AM

        “I’d throw meatballs and cheer the resulting homers until they pulled ne, but clause 1.2c of my contract stipulates that I appear to grind.”

      • adcwonk - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:59 AM

        Agreed. “grinding” is just the current lingo for what used to be “playing though it” or some such thing. It means the same thing, and I’m sure the idea itself has been around for at least as long as baseball has been around.

      • bowdenball - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:02 AM

        “I’m gonna let you guys in on a little secret- my 4 years as an outstanding starting pitcher at the major league level was nothing but an elaborate ruse to bamboozle Nationals fans into falsely hoping the team would win a late July 2014 home game.”

  7. laddieblahblah - Aug 1, 2014 at 6:24 AM

    Gio was getting behind and had to come to the hitters, who knew what to do with that juicy FB. For the rest, I chalk it up to returning from a long road trip and having to suit right back up without the opportunity to decompress and re-energize.

    They’ll be back.

  8. scnatsfan - Aug 1, 2014 at 6:51 AM

    Keep grinding what a crock

  9. nats128 - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    Gio is morphing into that inconsistent mess of a pitcher the Nats had with Edwin Jax and Dan Haren. Hes still better than both but not much.

    • chaz11963 - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:35 AM

      Except EJax and Haren are back of the rotation pitchers, Gio is supposed to be a top of the rotation pitcher.

      • nats128 - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:53 AM

        2012 was a really nice season by Gio. 2013 was hard to judge with all of his Biogenesis stress. This season has just reminded me of a #5 pitcher.

        Best comparison is that he has turned into John Lannan without the doubleplays. Walking and nibbling. Just not fun starts to watch. One day hes throwing a 5 hitter with 4 walks and the next 5 runs and pulled early.

        Look at Lannans game log from 2011 and his 3.70 ERA. Gio is at a 3.88 ERA

  10. natsfan1a - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:24 AM

    Strange game. You think with Lee departing early, you have a shot. Turns out, not so much. (Hope it’s not serious, btw. Don’t want to see anybody injured.) Went to bed in the middle of the 8th, and was a little surprised that it ended with the same score. The way things were going, I figured the Phillies would pile on some more. At least the Barves lost.

    Will be off the grid for a few days, so won’t be doing much but checking boxscores. Hold down the fort, y’all.

  11. natinalsgo - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:38 AM

    Eric Byrnes starting the QB controversy.

    “This guy is a legitimate ace,” Byrnes said Wednesday on “MLB Tonight.”

    “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa,” host Greg Amsinger replied.

    “Ace,” Byrnes said. “Clayton Kershaw, Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke, Adam Wainwright. TANNER ROARK. Do you understand that he is an ace?”

    (Via MLB Network)
    Amsinger suggested that Roark doesn’t have the track record to be considered an ace.

    “What have you done for me lately?” Byrnes said. “That’s what I’m looking for. We’re all about the now, the present. And right now…”

    “So you’re giving him the ball to start one game in the postseason?” Harold Reynolds interrupted.

    “I’m giving the ball to TANNER ROARK,” Byrnes said.

    “You’re giving the ball to Tanner Roark over Jordan Zimmermann, over Stephen Strasburg, over Gio Gonzalez, over Doug Fister,” Amsinger said.

    “The Nationals are good, aren’t they?” Byrnes said. “Now that you just brought this up, you can legitimately give the ball to any one of those guys, but right now, if you just go on the cold-hard numbers…”

    • natinalsgo - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:43 AM

      Then at the bottom of the article there is a quote from CJ Nitkowski on his playoff rotation which was identical to the Ghost’s 1,2,3,4 with Gio left out but this from the comment section is good:

      7/31/2014 10:37 AM EDT
      “Fox Sports analayst C.J. Nitkowski weighed in on the subject of the Nationals’ hypothetical postseason rotation earlier this week. Nitkowski’s 1-5 if the playoffs started today? Fister, Zimmermann, Roark, Strasburg and Gonzalez.”

      You would think that a so-called sports analyst would know that the playoff rotation will probably not include 5 pitchers, but just four.”

      • nats128 - Aug 1, 2014 at 7:56 AM

        Gio will make any decision easy for the postseason if he keeps this up.

  12. scnatsfan - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:03 AM

    Both Gio and SS are below .500 this late in the season, still we are in first place.

    Those boys need to start carrying their share of the load, not ‘grind’ to the occasional win.

    • nats128 - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      I dont care as much about W/L as you saw with JZ not getting the W after departing after 7 with a 6-2 lead but yes, those 2 better step it up.

    • bowdenball - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:25 AM

      Strasburg threw seven innings and allowed just one run last time out. He also took a loss. That should tell you something about how meaningful a starter’s W-L record is.

      • scnatsfan - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:40 AM

        And at the end of the season Ws are all that matter. Sure SS got jobbed last start but you look at is whole season, not one start.

      • bowdenball - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:44 AM

        Team Ws are all that matter. Pitcher Ws are meaningless and a terrible way to evaluate individual pitcher performance.

        You said Gio and Stras “need to start carrying their share of the load,” as if Strasburg hasn’t started to do so. He threw seven innings of one run ball last time out, I’d say he carried more than his share of the load.

      • scnatsfan - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:57 AM

        One start. One. The early big inning has let the team down how many times this year? I’m not smart enough to know the record in games SS has started this (and last) year but his record over the last two years is sub .500. You can only have so much bad luck.

      • Eric - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:34 AM

        How else do you purpose he “start carrying his weight,” if not with 1 good start?

      • scnatsfan - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:04 AM

        How about 2 good starts… and maybe even a win

    • natsguy - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:29 AM

      If I hear or read “grind” or “tip your cap” one more time I think I’ll puke. I keep thinking of Bull Durham and Newk LaLouche being taught interview cliches. I hate that as much as “orientated” and “irregardless”.

  13. stoatva - Aug 1, 2014 at 8:48 AM

    We are a testy bunch when the team is struggling (or grinding).

    • adcwonk - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:02 AM


      You’re continuing the roll you’ve been on lately! Well done!

    • Smyrcok - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:02 AM

      People are frustrated with a frustrating series of games? Stop the presses!

  14. sjm308 - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:05 AM

    As I sit here trying to “grind” out a comment worth reading (probably hopeless but I will keep “grinding”), I had a few thoughts.

    Team wins is honestly the only stat at the end of a season. I realize Strasburg gets hammered on here all the time but its hard to be among the tops in the league in innings pitched and strikeouts and games started and not be considered someone who is not carrying their weight.

    I remember when the Braves were in that easy part of their schedule and were winning most nights and could not catch up with us. I hope that the same thing does not happen with us. I realize its just four games but we have gone 1-3 and while Atlanta has not taken advantage of that, they just got swept and we lost an opportunity to move 3 or 4 games up. I am not worrying about any of that, just a grind it out observation.

    Looking for a big bounce back tonight with a new 2nd baseman.

    Has MW said anything about the batting order. I really don’t want Rendon moved from the #2 spot.

    Go Nats!!

    • Smyrcok - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:11 AM

      I have to “tip my cap” to your comment there sjm308. You always hope to start off the day with a good comment and it just wasn’t there for me today.

    • Eric - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      Fortunately, atm, we don’t have a need to catch up to the Braves, just have to stay out front.

      Some padding would be wonderful, though.

    • Eric - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:39 AM

      PS – agreed re: Rendon in the 2 spot.

      Hope Cabrera can provide some level of protection at the bottom of the order.

      Anyone know if he’s fast?

  15. Candide - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    I suggested a few weeks ago that we should turn “grind” into a drinking game. When you’re three sheets to the wind, hearing it repeatedly might not be so annoying.

    F.P. says it enough to have most people under the table by the third inning.

    • Smyrcok - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:46 AM

      There’s already an established FP drinking game and “grind” might just be on there. The one you really have to watch out for though is “for my money”.

      • Eric - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:04 AM

        Add “to where” if it’s not on there already…

    • stoatva - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:57 AM

      Sounds too dangerous for a geezer like me.

  16. stoatva - Aug 1, 2014 at 9:57 AM

    A couple of years ago, who said “grinding?” Now it’s everywhere, all the time. That’s more amusing than annoying. Although it’s getting annoying. 😉

    Going to the game tonight should improve my mood, unless it rains. A bad night at the ballpark is better than a good night peeking at updates on the phone. And a good night at the ballpark is the best!

    • Smyrcok - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:04 AM

      Yeah stoatva, “grinding” appears to be everywhere. Remember with Davey it was that the guys were “pressing”? We’re all just annoyed because of the (embarrassing) losses. Winning really does cure everything. Let’s hope we don’t get rained out, can’t lose any future off days

  17. #4 - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    The guy that Steven Strasburg reminds me of most is a pitcher we’ve all heard of who retired with just a .526 W-L % despite averaging 9.5 K per 9 innings. Most seasons his record was around .500 despite pitching for some pretty good teams. He was critcized frequently for having gaudy stats but not winning a lot. Oh… and he also threw seven no-hitters and is in the Hall of Fame. Nolan Ryan.

    Glad about the Cabrera pick up. My favorite reaction is from those who were disappointed that the Nats didn’t give Walters a week of starts to “see what he could do”. Guys don’t magically change in their abilities when they get to the big leagues. The Nats knew what they had in Walters and had made their judgement that he was no more than a below average utility infielder. Obviously the Indians scouts feel differently. I guess we’ll see who is right soon. I tend the agree with the Nats.

    • NatsLady - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:16 AM

      I agree with the Nats, too. I won’t say guys like Walters and Ty-Mo are a “dime a dozen,” because they’re not. But there is a reason they’re not starting on a contending team.

      I’ll take a page out of Ghost’s book and remind you that, although I didn’t predict Cabrera (mostly because I didn’t know much about him), I DID predict Rizzo would go for the veteran “rental” over a project like Starlin Castro. The fact that Cleveland forked over the rent is gravy. Of course I was hoping for the 3-team blockbuster that would get us Beltre, but Texas isn’t playing this year. Can’t blame them.

      • Joe Seamhead - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:22 AM

        At least on paper, for the overall health of the organization, I thought Rizzo made the prudent move. I hope Cabrera exceeds our expectations.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:23 AM

      I agree with most of what you say, but Nolan Ryan was really wild early in his career. He got better with age.

  18. NatsLady - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:09 AM

    Denard and Jayson will probably get shafted for NL Player of the Month by that journeyman pitcher who was 4-0 ERA 1.07 in five starts. He’s pretty good.

    • Joe Seamhead - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:19 AM

      Hard to argue with any one of them getting the award. Me? I’m still rooting for one our hometown guys to get it.

    • Section 222 - Aug 1, 2014 at 12:03 PM

      Look who’s 7th in WAR and 8th in ERA on that list… our own Tanner Roark. Stras is 13th in WAR.

      I’m continually amazed that otherwise seemingly intelligent people think that pitcher wins means anything at all.

  19. Joe Seamhead - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:15 AM

    You guys are sick of “grind, tip my cap, and W-L records.” I’m getting tired of a couple of other things, like “That strike out was a good at bat” and “he’s not in a slump, he’s just had bad luck with his BABIP.” Give me a break, a K is very rarely a good AB, and when a guy goes 1-20, even though he’s crushing the ball, getting robbed, jobbed, or whatever, he’s in a slump.Hello? He’s not getting on base,his batting average is going down, he’s not driving in runs. Agreed, he can be suffering from bad luck, but to me, bad luck is part of what makes for a slump. And by calling it a slump is not saying that the guy sucks.

  20. micksback1 - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    Gio is a head case. I am so sick of how he reacts after a walk or a pitch he does not get from the umpire, it is childish and you can not win a championship with that

    • bowdenball - Aug 1, 2014 at 11:02 AM

      John Lackey does the same “childish” stuff except much worse and much more frequently. He has two World Series rings and two wins in World Series-clinching games. So yes, you most certainly can win a championship with that.

      • Smyrcok - Aug 1, 2014 at 11:21 AM

        People also forget that Gio was the same “head case” in 2012. He’s just an interest and (at times, overly) passionate guy. He is also the first one to crack a smile and try to lighten the mood, when he’s not on the mound at least. By all accounts a great guy for the club house. Doesn’t sound like a head case to me.

      • Smyrcok - Aug 1, 2014 at 11:22 AM

        Should be “intense”, not “interest”

  21. micksback1 - Aug 1, 2014 at 10:56 AM

    I keep reading posts about players ages and that they get better as they get older in there 20’s, especially when it comes to Stras and Bryce. OK, let’s accept that a face value. Now, explain why that does not hold true with Gio. He clearly has regressed with age, seems less mature as each season goes by. So, I am not buying this age garbage any more, when it comes with Stras or anyone else





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