VIERA, Fla. - It certainly doesn't compare to the intensity level of his two starts in the National League Division Series last October, in which he allowed five runs and 11 walks in 10 innings. But in his first true competitive outing in nearly five months, and in a pretty big spot on an international stage, Gio Gonzalez delivered a stellar performance.
Gonzalez pitched five scoreless innings against Puerto Rico tonight in the second round of the World Baseball Classic, allowing just three hits and no walks and striking out five in a 7-1 Team USA win.
A guy who sometimes has issues with pitch counts ratcheting up quickly, Gonzalez threw just 69 pitches in his five innings, 48 of which were strikes.
The Nationals left-hander had strong fastball command and good control of a sharp curveball and effective change-up.
He struck out Martin Maldonado looking to end the second, got Andy Gonzalez and Angel Pagan swinging in the third, and finished off his strong outing by getting Maldonado and Eddie Rosario on strikes in the fifth.
The Americans ended up piling on the runs in the middle innings, using a bases-clearing double by Mets third baseman David Wright to put the game out of reach in the eighth.
Wright came up with the bases loaded three times tonight. He delivered five RBIs, giving him a whopping 10 runs driven in in just four WBC games played.
You able to root for him or Jimmy Rollins during this tourney, Nats fans?
With the win, Team USA moves on to face the Dominican Republic on Thursday at 7 p.m. The winner of that game will advance to the semifinals.
Nationals lefty Ross Detwiler will be on normal rest that day, and could end up seeing key action in what might be a very entertaining game between two loaded rosters.