G. Gonzalez joins some elite company (also notches 20th win)

Leading 9-2 after six innings of work, it would take a complete collapse by the Nationals for Gio Gonzalez to not become the first 20-game winner in the majors this season.

Assuming it happens, that will be quite an accomplishment.

But that won’t be the only numerical milestone Gonzalez will reach today. He also has notched his 200th strikeout of the season, making him the first Washington pitcher to get to 200 strikeouts since Walter Johnson did it in 1916.

How’s that for some decent company?

Strikeout No. 200 came when Gonzalez got Jean Segura swinging in the fifth inning. It was Gonzalez’s fourth strikeout of the day, a relatively low total for him in six innings of work, but he’s still yet to allow an earned run today.

He’s also now allowed just four earned runs in his last 33 innings, including today’s effort.

One of Gonzalez’s competitors for the NL Cy Young award, Mets starter R.A. Dickey, has thrown eight scoreless innings against the Marlins today.

But Gonzalez has done well to put his name towards the top of the discussion for the Cy Young, and with two scheduled starts to go, he could finish with some really impressive overall statistics.

Update: A bizarre scene in the top of the seventh turned into ammunition for everyone in the Nationals’ clubhouse.

While throwing a pitch to Martin Maldonado, Gonzalez caught a spike in the dirt and crumpled to the ground. The pitch sailed to the backstop, Gonzalez lay flat on the grass in front of the mound and the crowd at Nats Park went silent.

Gonzalez stayed still on the ground for a few seconds, then got up and stretched out his back as Davey Johnson, Steve McCatty, trainers and all four infielders trotted out to the mound to check on their star pitcher.

After a brief chat, Gonzalez ensured everyone he felt fine physically, cracked a smile and tipped his cap to a standing ovation from the fans. His pride was apparently all that was hurt.

Gonzalez struck out Maldonado on the next pitch, got out of the inning and got a handshake and a pat on the behind from Johnson as he came into the dugout. The two men shared a laugh.

The final line on Gonzalez: seven innings, three hits, two runs (both unearned), one walk and five strikeouts.

Update II: That’ll do it. Gio Gonzalez is MLB’s first 20-game winner this season.

The Nats beat the Brewers 10-4, cutting their magic number to six to clinch the division.

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