Ef­fi­cient Gon­za­lez goes an ex­tra in­ning

The Washington Post Sunday - - SCOREBOARD - Ex­cerpted from wash­ing­ton­post.com/na­tion­als

Gio Gon­za­lez en­coun­tered a prob­lem in his start against the Car­di­nals on Satur­day that he usu­ally doesn’t face: He was too ef­fi­cient. Gon­za­lez needed just 29 pitches to hold the Car­di­nals score­less over three in­nings in his sec­ond Grape­fruit League out­ing. The brisk pace forced him to log a third in­ning even though he was sched­uled for two.

“They were be­ing ag­gres­sive, so it was tough to [throw] some of the pitches I wanted,” said Gon­za­lez, who sur­ren­dered one hit, is­sued one walk and didn’t record a strike­out in a 1-1 tie. “So I was like, ‘You know what, let me start mix­ing them in now.’ ”

Gon­za­lez is durable and con­sis­tent — he has made at least 31 starts in six of the past seven sea­sons — but he has never been mis­taken for ef­fi­cient, so the pitch to­tal was a pos­i­tive sign for the left-han­der as he revs up for the sea­son. He posted a 4.57 ERA — 17th-high­est ERA in base­ball among qual­i­fied start­ing pitch­ers — in 2016.

“Last year, a lot of times he would get 0-2 and then end up 3-2 and then end up walk­ing a guy or some­thing, and you add two or three pitches per bat­ter,” Na­tion­als Man­ager Dusty Baker said. “That adds up quickly, and then it gets up there high in a short pe­riod. He doesn’t want to come out, but I got to take him out. And I told him a num­ber of times, ‘I don’t want to take you out.’ But the sit­u­a­tion and the in­ning of the game dic­tates what I have to do, and so if he wants to stay out there longer, you got to min­i­mize the amount of pitches you throw in a short pe­riod of time, stay away from the high pitch count in­ning. That’s num­ber one. He was very, very good to­day.”

Gon­za­lez had pitched just one in­ning this spring — in the Na­tion­als’ Grape­fruit League opener — be­fore toss­ing two bullpen ses­sions and pitch­ing Satur­day. He said his big­gest take­away was com­mand­ing his curve­ball, which helped in in­duc­ing two dou­ble plays and plow­ing through the St. Louis lineup.

“It’s a lot dif­fer­ent when you’re fac­ing hit­ters,” Gon­za­lez said. “So I had a good op­por­tu­nity to get some ground­ball outs. Guys made some great plays and got me through the in­nings real quick.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.