Gio dominated the Mets again on the mound and with his bat

Rich Mancuso

New York – Gio Gonzalez the Washington Nationals left-hander starter has had great success pitching in New York. He has won three games cross town against the New York Yankees when he was throwing strikes as a part of the Oakland Athletic pitching staff.

But, for some reason, he loves pitching on the other side of town against the New York Mets. Wednesday night, in his first start of the season, Gonzalez got the win. He also is did something that is becoming routine in the early going of the season.  

He hit his third career home run in the fifth inning off Mets’ starter and loser Bartolo Colon. The ball just cleared the railing in left-center at Citi Field. Gonzalez ran the bases and did not realize the ball was out of the park even as second base umpire Todd Tischnor signaled it was gone.

The ball came back on the playing field in the outfield. But, Gonzalez kept running. It was his second consecutive home run in his first start of the season. In the clubhouse afterwards, Gonzalez was hearing it from his teammates, a roster of run producers who banged out 13-hits as the Nationals took the second of three games to open the season.

Gonzalez said about running the bases, “I was trying to catch my breath as the guys were piling on.  I was just trying to find an oxygen tank.  Even the bullpen guys were telling me, ‘you were running away like you were running from the cops.’ I don’t know what that is about, but I guess I know what it is now,: he said with a laugh.

However, there is no laughing in the other dugout. Because when Gonzalez pitches against the Mets he always seems to find success, now 6-1 in nine career starts and six straight decisions. A first inning Mets run snapped a 16.0 inning scoreless streak against New York.

 Over his last three starts against the Mets, Gonzalez is 3-0 with a 0.40 ERA. Impressive numbers and now there is a home run to go along with the dominating numbers on the mound.  

“That’s baseball,” he commented when asked about his continued success over the Mets. “I am blessed also to have a good team behind me. The guys get the hits and the bullpen does their job.” Drew Storen, Tyler Clippard and Craig Stammen tossed three shutout innings when Gonzalez exited after six innings.

Though, on this night, the topic was that home run. Gonzalez never bragged about his skills at the plate. It was always about his gifted arm that also brought him 21 wins in 2012 with Washington, placing second in voting for the National League CY Young Award.

“He swung that bat good, didn’t he,” said Nationals’ rookie manager Matt Williams about the home run. “He’s got bragging rights for a few days anyway.” Williams also said for the first start, Gonzalez overall had good location and was on target.

Ian Desmond also homered in the same inning. He said about the Gonzalez home run, “It was epic.”

Max Gonzalez, younger brother of Gio, and a contingent of family and friends who travel up from Miami, were the most vocal behind home plate when the home run ball was hit.  They, too, were telling Gio to keep running.

“I think it was the fastest home run jog in baseball,” said Gio. “I was about to slide home.”

But Gonzalez will continue to do the pitching and allow the lineup to continue giving him run support. The home runs, as he says are what make baseball a special game. And pitching also against the Mets has become something special as well.

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