Gonzalez ready if he gets Game 5 opportunity

The Nationals hope they get a chance to have Gio Gonzalez pitch here Friday. That would mean they won Game 4 of the best-of-five National League Division Series.

And that would be just fine with the cool, calm and confident Gonzalez. He has been that way since he arrived in D.C., and he is certainly not going to change now. Always smiling, always giving credit to his catcher and his defense, never taking credit for anything he did. And he won 21 games in a Cy Young-esque first season for the Nationals.

Gonzalez said each starter on the staff has a big task every time they take to the mound.

“Our main job is to try to keep them in the game as long as possible,” Gonzalez said. “As a starter you want to go five, six or seven innings - as long as possible - (and) give our bullpen a time to rest and go out there and compete. Again, you can’t see a Game 5 if you can’t win Game 4.”

And that is certainly the most critical part of today is that it is an elimination game.

Looking back at his first playoff start in St. Louis, Gonzalez said nerves did not play a part in the early wildness, which led to seven walks.

“I don’t think it was that much of a problem,” Gonzalez said. “There were seven walks, yes, but at the same time you have five innings and two earned runs to a team that had their starter go 5 2/3 and gave up one.

“All of sudden, then it was a good battle between two pitchers. You find the strike zone, some way, somehow. It was my first postseason game, no excuses, but the way I see it is playing in someone else’s house (is) pretty rowdy, pretty exciting. You catch yourself in the moment, you step back, take a deep breath and try to find it again.”

Gonzalez said it was extremely helpful these last few days to be able to go back and study his Game 1 start on video.

“You get those moments where you have to sit back and watch those kind of games,” Gonzalez said. “Watching it and taking a step back, and understanding the situation of seven walks, yes, but at the same time I kept my team in the game as long as possible. You learn from it and you make adjustments.”

Gonzalez said the Cardinals are good for a reason because they know when do go after the pitcher. They pick their spots.

“They are going to patient when they need to be and they are going to be aggressive when they need to be,” Gonzalez said. “(On Wednesday), they were aggressive when they need to be, especially the bottom of their lineup. That is what has been killing us most of the time and then when they get to the top it is where they strike the most.

“I think that is the adjustment that we have to make. We have to attack these guys as much as possible. They are not going to let you walk all over them. They are going to go out there and compete. And that is what we got to do.”

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