Gio Gonzalez is very familiar with the Indians after pitching the first four seasons of his career in the American League. In fact, the Tribe is a favorite opponent of the lefty. He really likes pitching at Progressive Field.
His all-time mark of 5-0 with an 0.72 ERA against Cleveland includes a 4-0 record and 0.68 ERA on the shores of the Cuyahoga River. That's not just good, that's domination.
Gonzalez is through four innings of Friday's interleague start against the Indians, and so far is holding form. He's allowed a run on three hits and has struck out six.
The game is tied at 1-1 because one of the hits allowed by Gonzalez was a two-out solo shot by Ryan Raburn in the fourth. The winds can be tricky in Cleveland, so let's hope they don't start blowing out, which can turn Progressive Field into a pitcher-hating bandbox.
The Nationals took a 1-0 lead in the third off Justin Masterson. Kurt Suzuki walked, Steve Lombardozzi singled, both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Denard Span and Roger Bernadina walked to load the bases. Then Masterson uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Suzuki to score.
Update: We're through six, still deadlocked at 1-all, and Gonzalez had to work hard to get out of the sixth.
The southpaw got two quick outs, with Michael Bourn flying to center and Jason Kipnis fanning. Gonzalez then loaded the bases on three consecutive full-count walks, the final free pass to Raburn leaving him visibly upset on the mound. Pitching coach Steve McCatty visited, calmed his starter down, and Gonzalez got Mark Reynolds to pop to second to end the threat and the inning.
Now the Nats need to get something going offensively. Masterson has 10 strikeouts and has allowed only two hits going to the seventh.
Update II: Gonzalez is out after seven innings and 127 pitches, a new career high. His previous highwater mark was 199 pitches, accomplished three times, most recently last Aug. 31 in a 10-0 win at St. Louis.
Gonzalez allowed a run on three hits, walked four and struck out eight.
Masterson is also out of the game after seven impressive innings. We'll see if the Nats can break through against the Cleveland bullpen.
Update III: We're headed to the ninth inning, thanks to a masterful escape by Tyler Clippard, who was stretched to 28 pitches. The right-hander loaded the bases with one out on a pair of singles and a walk, then got Reynolds to strike out and Michael Brantley to line out to center.
Adam LaRoche, Jayson Werth and Ian Desmond are due in the ninth for the Nats against Joe Smith.
Update IV: Officially, the Nats lost 2-1 in the bottom of the ninth when Jason Kipnis hit a one-out fielder's choice grounder to LaRoche at first base and LaRoche's throw to home was a hair late to nab Drew Stubbs at the plate.
But Kipnis gets an assist for running on the pitcher's side of the first base line, meaning LaRoche had to aim his throw to Kurt Suzuki around him. Home plate umpire Brian Knight allowed the play to stand and Fernando Abad was saddled with a hard-luck loss.
The Nationals fall back to .500 at 33-33. Gonzalez is 0-1 with six no-decisions in his last seven starts.