Flushing, NY: Gio Gonzalez said again Sunday afternoon Citi Field is a ballpark much different than the others. “Has that type of magic,” he said. It was his first start of the season with the Milwaukee Brewers after signing on with them a few days ago which ended a long dry spell during his free agent hiatus.
So again, Gio Gonzalez was on the mound at Citi Field and opposing the Mets. The career mark against the Mets, 15-6, 2.83 ERA in 26 starts. Good numbers for the 33-year old left-hander and recipient of the 2017 Latino Sports NL Pitcher MVP Award.
His first preference all along was to pitch for the Mets. He loves the fan base, ballpark, and the Mets chances to win with their starting rotation.
But after opting out of a minor league deal with the Yankees, where he made three starts with Scranton Wilkes Barre, Gonzalez was a free agent again last week. The Mets and Brewers were in the running for bis services but he chose Milwaukee for two reasons.
His former team, via a late season trade last year with the Nationals, was the Brewers. He also returned to the Brewers with familiarity and a chance to start instead of coming in from the bullpen.
So on a gloomy Sunday at Citi Field, Gio Gonzalez made his season debut. It was like a homecoming. He had some friends and a few family members in the crowd. he took the mound and the first inning was an adventure. The fastball had velocity, the changeup and curve also had something to it. But he hit Robinson Cano on the left hand with a fastball.
There was also a ball hit to deep right that looked like a home run ball. But a fan got involved in the play and Pete Alonso settled for a triple.
But Todd Frazier and Amed Rosario got to Gonzalez early with an RBI single in the first and a run scoring double in the second.
“We got five solid innings we’re pleased,” said Brewers manager Craig Counsell. “He’s ready to take the next step.Very good outing. He gave us a chance to win.”
And for a starter to give his team a chance to win, well that has always been the motto of Gio Gonzalez who is now in his 12th Major League season.
“Shook off pitches,rhythm and timing was good.” he said about his five-innings pitched, two-runs six-hits and 82 pitches.” Guys made some good plays for me. Felt great, worked fast got the ball.”
Gonzalez did not lose. He did not win. It was as they say a no decision as the Mets went on to beat the Brewers 5-2 and managed to salvage the finale of the three-game series.
Gonzalez credited his team for making the plays. He remembered how this core of Brewers vouched to have him return. Last October, Gonzalez was 3-0 with a 2.13 ERA in five starts with Milwaukee and started two games in the NLCS vs. the Dodgers with no decisions.
He added about the first start, “Offspeed stuff was good. Wish I could have done a better job. As a staring pitcher of course, I take full responsibility”
Again, and considering this was his first start since April 14th with Scranton, it was good by all standards. Gonzalez also thanked and credited the Yankees for giving him an opportunity. He also stayed sharp during the latest hiatus with continued workouts at a nearby high school in his hometown of Hialeah Florida.
“Again hope to move forward with this one,” he said. But that magic of pitching at Citi Field is something special. The first preference was the Mets but they would not commit him to a starter role.
Regardless, it has all worked out. Gonzalez anticipates another start in a struggling Brewers rotation in the next five or six days.
Counsell also anticipates giving Gonzalez the ball soon. But the Mets and Citi Field, the first preference, for now will wait until next year. There is always the chance he could play the free agent route again and the Mets will take another hack at offering a contract.
“They slotted me in right away,” Gonzalez said about his start. “it was fine with me.Again its nice to be back in New York. This ballpark has some type of magic. I love it.”
Magic or not, Gio Gonzalez returned and after a tough haul, contract and staying in condition, that first start is in the books.
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