Gio Gonzalez says he does not have an answer about his success pitching against the New York Mets at Citi Field but it could be one of those elements of baseball that continue to make the Washington Nationals lefthander so dominant when he takes the mound in New York. Again Wednesday night whatever it is, Gio was dominant.
This was not Matt Scherzer on the mound for the Nationals who took the 2-0 loss Tuesday night. Gonzalez does not strike out as many as Scherzer, and he does not give up many runs. He limited the Mets to one run, the 13th of the season to Yoenis Cespedes in the fourth inning, tossed 6.1 innings, struck out five and walked one in getting his third win in the Nationals 7-1 win.
It is the first big series of the season between the top teams in the NL East. And when Gio Gonzalez takes the mound against the Mets at Citi Field the only answer appears to be another win.
“I really don’t have an answer for what’s going on here,” he said. However the numbers tell the truth and provide enough evidence of his dominance against the Mets. He improved to 10-4 with a 2.59 ERA in 18 career starts against New York and the last six starts is 4-0 with a 0.97 ERA.
Want more evidence? How about 7-1 with a 1.52 ERA, which amounts to 13 earned runs 77.0 innings in 12 career starts at Citi Field. He’s allowed two earned runs in his last 24.0 innings, a 0.75 ERA across the last four starts in what has become his favorite ballpark.
And with the Nationals scheduled for two more series this season at Citi Field, Gio Gonzalez is bound to be on the mound again one or two more times. Don’t ask the Mets for an answer. If they had to respond, right now they would probably prefer seeing Scherzer again, or the hard throwing Stephen Strasburg who gets the start Thursday night in the series finale.
Gonzalez credits the offense with his latest success at Citi Field. Wednesday night it was Jayson Werth with a double, single and scoring three runs. Bryce Harper scored once and drew four walks. But this is the Gio Gonzalez the Nationals expect and not just when he takes the mound against the Mets.
“It was nice as an offense for us to put up a crooked number tonight and reward Gio for how well he’s been throwing the ball,” said former Met Daniel Murphy who drove in two runs and going 1-for-4.
Murphy added, “I don’t think we’ve given him a ton of run support.”
Last year it was issuing more walks and not attacking the strike zone. There was a loss of his command and Gonzalez (3-1) credits pitching coach Mike Maddux for the adjustments. It just seems that those adjustments always seem to be perfect when opposing the Mets at Citi Field. Again, this could be a coincidence but the Mets are the team that are targets for the Nationals to overtake in the division.
“Getting a chance to pitch more in the game,” Gonzalez said. “I’m seeing the strike zone more and I give credit to Mike Maddux for slowing me down. Attacking the strike zone instead of walking guys. That’s a big plus.”
He limited the Mets to two hits going into the seventh inning. The three straight singles loaded the bases with one out. Manager Dusty Baker went to Felipe Rivero and he got the job done retiring Kevin Plawecki, and pinch hitter Michael Conforto hit into a ground out as the Nationals kept a four-run lead.
So Gio Gonzalez got some help to keep that success at Citi Field. Until that jam it was once again the Mets trying to get some answers as to why he continues this domination in their ballpark.
“I’m more proud of the guys in the bullpen,” said Gonzalez. “They are making it their business. I been in a couple of situations and these guys helped me out.”
The Nationals last three games in New York this season come in early September. Obviously, Gio Gonzalez does not have a crystal ball that can give an answer to the outcomes of those games. it is expected the Mets and Nationals will be in a battle for the division to the end and pitching could be the decisive factor.
But one thing the Mets hope for, and especially because of their bad fortune in handling Gonzalez at Citi Field, is that in one of those games he is not a part of the Nationals pitching rotation in what is expected to be a more crucial series.