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Gonzalez’ effort caps historic weekend for Nats starters

Jun 22, 2015, 6:00 AM EDT

Jun 21, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez (47) pitches during the first inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

There was no no-hitter this time. It wasn’t even a complete game. But what Gio Gonzalez turned in Sunday as a follow-up to Max Scherzer’s gem may very well have been his most efficient and effective start of the season.

Buoyed by a nine run first inning — one he helped contribute to with an RBI double — the lefty starter hurled seven shutout innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates on just 85 pitches to help lead the Nationals to a 9-2 victory.

On a normal day, that’d be considered a really solid outing. But when you’re the guy who pitches less than 24 hours after your rotation mate throws a no-no, even the very good can seem ordinary.

“It was a tough act to follow,” he said afterward. “I just one-upped [Scherzer] on the hit. That’s all I did.”

Regardless, Gonzalez’ performance capped off what was a memorable and historic Father’s Day Weekend for the Nats’ rotation. He, Scherzer and rookie right hander Joe Ross combined for 23 1/3 innings of work with 25 strikeouts, three walks and just one earned run allowed between them.  As a whole, Washington’s staff set a club record with 24 consecutive scoreless innings pitched before Pittsburgh scored two runs in the ninth.

“That’s unbelievable,” right fielder Bryce Harper said of the feat. “Starting with Joe Ross then going into the weekend and seeing Maxy do what he did…hopefully we can keep it going as a team. Hopefully we can keep it going as a staff.”

It’s a common saying in baseball that momentum is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher. But Gonzalez and other members of the Nats’ clubhouse might beg to differ, as they suggested that the afterglow of a big-time performance or two can linger.

“We just carried it over into today,” first baseman Clint Robinson said. “[We’re] playing with a lot of confidence these past three games. I think Gio fed off of Max and went out there and threw a good ball game.”

“Joe was the guy who anchored for us and started us off,” Gonzalez added. “Maxy, just an unbelievable game. He was fun to watch, every pitch. You didn’t mind sweating your butt of because he was pitching his butt off and it was fun to watch because Maxy’s incredible. It was just Mad Max doing whatever he does best, just going out there and dominating. It was kind of tough to follow up on his act.”

The rotation’s efforts helped the Nats sweep the previously red-hot Pirates and get Washington back into first place in the NL East. And though Herculean stretches like this past weekend’s can’t be expected every time out, it’s obvious that the unit’s consistency and health are the keys to the club’s hopes for a second straight division title.

“It’s just one of those things of the game where when you get good starting pitching and all the hits start falling,” said Robinson, “it just makes it fun so you can go out there and win ballgames.”

 

  1. scmargenau - Jun 22, 2015 at 6:11 AM

    Keep I rolling boys!

    It will be interesting to see how Stras responds and how we manage Joe cool.

  2. llf0701 - Jun 22, 2015 at 6:13 AM

    Very exciting weekend! I was lucky to have been at the Sherzer game. Still recovering!
    Thanks Nats!

  3. chapjim - Jun 22, 2015 at 6:43 AM

    I am NEVER not going to a game that SuperMax starts!

  4. laddieblahblah - Jun 22, 2015 at 7:36 AM

    Way to step up, Gio.

    Next!

  5. natsjackinfl - Jun 22, 2015 at 7:40 AM

    Gonna be hard for the LOD to post much today after that weekend of baseball.

    While at my 50th Falls Church High reunion last week I had the pleasure of questioning a certain NY Mets executive on their claiming Kirk Neuenhiese off waivers from the Dodgers a day earlier. He stated that after trading den Dekker to the Nats, they didn’t have any organizational outfield depth.

    I said, “Well, the Nats have den Dekker and still don’t have any organizational outfield depth.” He smiled and said “you’re probably right”.

    • Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2015 at 8:01 AM

      What do you mean? DenDekker is outfield depth…right there behind Tyler Moore, Clint Robinson and Danny Espinosa.

      • natsjackinfl - Jun 22, 2015 at 8:06 AM

        Funny but I wanted to mention Espinosa but, frankly, I was just glad that he felt it important to attend the reunion with his wife, who also was a classmate and skip his home game with the Braves.

  6. rabbit433 - Jun 22, 2015 at 7:46 AM

    Should I not be concerned that the bats went dead after the first inning? I have to say this was a very enjoyable series!!

    • natsjackinfl - Jun 22, 2015 at 8:01 AM

      Up 9-0 and staring at an off day? I think my focus would have drifted a little towards the defensive side of the ball.

      Just sayin’.

    • bowdenball - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:05 AM

      Correct. You should not be concerned that the bats went dead after the first inning.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:53 AM

        Do feel free to be concerned that the bats sometimes go dead for weeks at a time, however. As long as they are this beat-up, hot-and-cold streakiness is going to be an issue.

      • bowdenball - Jun 22, 2015 at 10:19 AM

        I’m not sure I see this. Where do you see the bats going dead for weeks at a time?

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/teams/WSN/2015-schedule-scores.shtml

        I think we’d all say that the Nats’ weakest stretch offensively was May 20-June 4. During that single two-week stretch they still managed to go 6-8. They were shut out just once and scored a single run just twice over that 14 game span. I think it’s hard to avoid stretches like that over 162 games- even if you average 5 runs a game that means you score under 5 runs in approximately half your games, and some of those are going to cluster together.

        The most deeper slump was April 23-26 followed closely by May 1-3, but that was broken up by some huge offensive games.

        Prolonged offensive droughts are one of those things that all fans think their team goes through, similar to how almost all fans think their team has terrible situational hitting and a horrible bullpen. But the Nats are the highest-scoring team in the National League. You don’t get to the top of the rankings if your bats are going dead for the weeks at a time.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 22, 2015 at 6:09 PM

        Oh, you and your “facts”; insisting we privilege what actually happens over what our guts and eyes tell us! Reality is like strikeouts — it’s fascist, and besides it’s boring. Rumors are more democratic.

        😉

  7. natsjackinfl - Jun 22, 2015 at 8:21 AM

    I may have missed it but was there any official word on Rendon sitting out yesterday? I felt it was just for the rest but never saw any thing about it.

    • nattyboh - Jun 22, 2015 at 8:31 AM

      Yes I’m hoping he didn’t hurt anything on that diving play.

    • scmargenau - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:23 AM

      Wondering the same…

  8. NatsLady - Jun 22, 2015 at 8:47 AM

    I was wondering (may try to put the question to Phil Wood),

    What if it rains?

    Less than an hour after the chocolate there was torrential rain, lightning, and in some of the towns, tornado warnings. Suppose that had happened before the start of the ninth inning. Before Tabata’s HBP?

    Is it a perfect game? I know it’s a complete game shutout, but is it a “perfect” game or a “no-hitter”, if Max only retires 26 straight batters?

    How long would you wait out a rain delay? Davey used to say one hour of a delay, then he changes pitchers. If there was a three-hour delay, would you let Max pitch to Tabata? Would you let the umps call the game? It didn’t stop raining for a pretty long time…

    • bowdenball - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:32 AM

      Has to be nine innings to be a no-hitter or a perfect game as per baseball rules:

      “Perfect games and No-hitters:

      An official perfect game occurs when a pitcher (or pitchers) retires each batter on the opposing team during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings. In a perfect game, no batter reaches any base during the course of the game.

      An official no-hit game occurs when a pitcher (or pitchers) allows no hits during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings. In a no-hit game, a batter may reach base via a walk, an error, a hit by pitch, a passed ball or wild pitch on strike three, or catcher’s interference.”

      I don’t know enough about pitching mechanics or sports medicine to offer an informed position on your section question, but if plausible and if the team has a decent lead you’d have to think the manager would at least let the guy throw some BP fastballs and hope they found someone’s glove. Hell, throw it underhand or with your opposite arm if need be.

    • tcostant - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:35 AM

      They use to consider rain shorterned no hitters as official no hitters (and I assume prefect games too), but no more. They also ues to considered it a no hitter, if you gave up a hit in the 10th inning (or the like), but no longer.

      The way it rained that day, it likely would have been called. They would have waited a while, but it was so mych rain.

      Great point.

      • Jfmii - Jun 22, 2015 at 11:28 AM

        Was thinking about Haddix too

  9. natsguy - Jun 22, 2015 at 8:48 AM

    Felipe Rivero was hit very hard in the 9th yesterday. They were so far ahead it did not matter, But still a matter of concern. He has been hit hard a lot. Even his outs are on screamers. Other than Storen, BP is something to watch with concern.

    • natsjackinfl - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:01 AM

      Other than Storen, Thornton, Jannsen, and, so far, Carpenter.

      • jd - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:17 AM

        natsjack,

        Absolutely. The bull pen is far down the list of things to worry about. Rivero is the last man in the pen and mop ups are generally tough because you don’t want to walk any one. Just ask Drew Storen.

      • Karl Kolchak - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:24 AM

        A trade is likely in the offing soon. Hopefully among the Nats’ prospects Giolito, Turner and Ross are off the table.

  10. jd - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:23 AM

    I have to say that the notion of trading Gio Gonzalez for Chapman was one of the least sensible ideas I have come across lately on so many fronts.

    1) You have 3 starters approaching free agency in the next year and a half. Gio isn’t one of them.
    2)) Gio has a team friendly contract.
    3) Planning your rotation for 2016 and 2017 with Ross and Giolito sounds good but it’s still a leap of faith.
    4) The Nats traded Clippard because he was too expensive as a set up man, why go for an equally expensive Aroldis Chapman?

    Just because Gio can be frustrating at times doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to trade him.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:49 AM

      Add to that, his fastball notwithstanding, I’m not sure he’d be a good fit. 1. He is, as you point out, expensive for a set-up guy, unless the Reds pay it, which I don’t think is in the rumor, even. 2. He would be the set-up guy here, not the closer. Rizzo already played his let’s-piss-Drew-off card; he doesn’t get another one. 3. Chasing saves is almost always a bad idea, and a bad investment.

      Plus, while I wish him a long and healthy career, the way he throws I’m afraid his arm is going to fall off sooner rather than later.

      • adcwonk - Jun 22, 2015 at 10:57 AM

        Agreed. His WHIP is a very unimpressive 1.309 (and he has 1 blown save and three losses already). Storen has an incredible WHIP of 0.846. In fact, Roark, Barrett, Thornton, Janssen & Rivero all have a lower WHIP than Chapman. I’m certainly not trying to say that all of them are better than Chapman, but I am trying to highlight that Chapman is having his problems this year.

      • nats128 - Jun 22, 2015 at 11:24 AM

        Chapman had bases loaded yesterday with no outs then struck out the #1, #2 and #3 batters to escape with the Save. Thats living on the edge.

    • nats128 - Jun 22, 2015 at 10:57 AM

      Would you rather give up a package of young players or a #5 starter. Can Joe Ross slide into Gio’s spot is my question. Trades are a bout meeting each other teams needs to be benificial to both which means you have to give up someone(s) good. Clearly they want a young stud pitcher + another top prospect for Chapman.

      Just becuz JZ and Fister are headed to Free Agency doesnt mean Rizzo will have his thumb up his rump. He will make sure that the 2016 rotation is excellent and not sure Giolito will be ready for 2016 altho should be for 2017 or some time in 2016.

      2016 could be:

      1. Scherzer
      2. Strasburg
      3. Roark
      4. Joe Ross
      5. New Acquisition or in-house

      2017

      1. Scherzer
      2. Roark
      3. Joe Ross
      4. Giolito
      5. ?

      “Just because Gio can be frustrating at times doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to trade him.”

      Just because Gio can be frustrating at times doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to NOT trade him.

  11. scmargenau - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:25 AM

    Mark, Chase:

    What’s the update on Rendon sitting out?

    • TimDz - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:44 AM

      IIRC, Bob and FP said that it was a day off, as he had not had one since coming off the DL…

      • masterfishkeeper - Jun 22, 2015 at 10:03 AM

        The radio guys said Rendon had quad tightness.

  12. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:41 AM

    The Nats bench went 16-43 (.372) for this series. I can’t help but to remember JayB’s dire posts regarding the bench, not to mention his insistence that Rizzo should’ve done whatever it took to get Chase Utley and his truly stupid high salary here. Yes, the Chase Utley that sports a .182 BA and publically stabbed both his manager and the pitching coach in the back the other day.

    • jd - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:50 AM

      Joe,

      JayB has this thing about the Nats being cheap and he won’t let it go despite the fact that our salary total is $162 mil which places us 6th in the majors despite the fact that we don’t have large TV revenues. He says ridiculous things about the Nats saving money on MRI’s and other procedures which makes zero sense. Kinda makes you wonder where he is coming from, there is some dark agenda there which I am not sure of.

    • unkyd59 - Jun 22, 2015 at 10:44 AM

      The bench has had me wondering how ol’ JayB is fareing here lately… I can’t figger why some of the more negative types here can’t bring themselves to post when things are going well… Are they constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop? Is optimism (or even cautious realism) so alien to their makeup, that they cannot publicly enjoy a few wins?

      • adcwonk - Jun 22, 2015 at 11:00 AM

        I can’t figger why some of the more negative types here

        ’cause maybe they are trolls and not Nats fans?

        Just guessing 😉

      • nats128 - Jun 22, 2015 at 11:00 AM

        JayB is a true fan which I cant say about the Baltimorons who post on here anonymously once things go south.

      • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 22, 2015 at 11:37 AM

        I think it’s just a habit of communication styles. Some people simply do not have any idea how to have a conversation without complaining about something. Sounds weird, I know, but I’ve known people like that. They genuinely, sincerely, do not know how. Just like some people don’t know how to talk without talking about themselves. Or without making baseball analogies (cough).

      • therealjohnc - Jun 22, 2015 at 11:59 AM

        JayB is a fan; he’s posted eloquently about things that he likes/appreciates about baseball in general and the Nationals in particular – but he did so only in response to a direct question. The vast majority of his posts are negative, which comes off as trollish. But over time it mostly seems to me that he is just a fan who keeps the good stuff to himself and shares all the misery, fears and worst case scenarios. Not the way I do it, but to each their own.

  13. Joe Seamhead - Jun 22, 2015 at 9:49 AM

    Tyler Clippard had his second four out save in two days yesterday, but this one came in spite of him giving up a 2 run homer to Pujols yesterday.He came into a 3-0 game with a runner on, and gave up the homer before closing out a 3-2 win for the A’s with a scoreless ninth. His 2.97 ERA is not telling his whole story.

    • Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 22, 2015 at 10:08 AM

      Speaking of guys I wish well but think their arm’s about to fall off …

    • virginiascopist - Jun 22, 2015 at 10:30 AM

      And Clippard came extremely close to giving up another two-run homer in the 9th to Johnny Giavotella (sp?) which was thankfully caught just in front of the wall for the final out. The look on Clippard’s face said it all — he knew how lucky he was.

      • nats128 - Jun 22, 2015 at 11:22 AM

        Is the jury out on Clippard? Is he werth bringing back?

  14. Sec 3, My Sofa - Jun 22, 2015 at 10:14 AM

    But there is still room for sentimentality. Just not on the active roster.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/06/marco-scutaro-signs-contract-to-retire-as-member-of-giants.html

  15. micksback1 - Jun 22, 2015 at 10:36 AM

    First chance I have had to post on NI because…I got to watch my first no hiiter, live and of course almost perfect game. I feel blessed as many will never be able to say they watched a no hitter live.

    Max you are a BEAST!! You are the number ONE BEAST in all of MLB!!!!!

    And, went to game yesterday as well, spent the weekend at Nats Park…..what a weekend and a great Father’s Day gift

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 22, 2015 at 11:19 AM

      I made it in for it too! My phone died early. One of these days we will coordinate to meet up for a beer after a game. I was in Section 122 which gave me a view over the RH batters shoulder. After I ate and hydrated I found a seat in the 7th in the red porch with a great view to home plate as I sensed something special. How easy it is with binoculars to steal signs. Scherzer hit 97 in the 9th!!! The fastball slider combo mixing in the real off-speed with the occasional slow curve and changeup was spectacular. Just special.

      As I listened to the radio after the game the thoughts on how he shutdown a good hitting team trumped the thrashing 1 hitter of the Brewers who are offensively challenged. It was a good point but some of the call-ins were mind-boggling after a no-hitter.

      Happy Father’s Day!

      • micksback1 - Jun 22, 2015 at 1:28 PM

        the beers will be on me!!!

      • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 22, 2015 at 4:39 PM

        Here’s my e mail suici**_squee**@outlook.com fill in the stars with the missing letters of the play we haven’t seen MW call this year!

  16. micksback1 - Jun 22, 2015 at 10:40 AM

    Please kepp Ross on active roster and show rivero the door, that would make the most sense, in case Stras bombs.

    • Ghost of Steve M. - Jun 22, 2015 at 11:09 AM

      I do think you need the added insurance. You’re correct through the euphoria that Strasburg is not a given and caution to the wind. Hopefully he’s fixed. Not sure why he didn’t get another rehab start.

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