MLB.com Columnist

Bill Ladson

Gonzalez has solid start after slowing game down

Gonzalez has solid start after slowing game down

VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez was solid for six innings in a 7-2 victory over the Braves on Sunday afternoon. What made Gonzalez satisfied with the outing was that he didn't walk any batters.

It helped that Gonzalez fixed his mechanics and received words of wisdom from pitching coach Mike Maddux. In the past, Gonzalez used to pick up signs from the catcher and then rush to make pitches. It explains why he walked eight batters in his previous 11 innings. All he needed to do was slow the game down.

"I feel comfortable doing what I'm doing," Gonzalez said. "It's finding rhythm. As soon as you find rhythm, things are starting to click together. It's giving me a chance to trust my curveball, my fastball. All three of my pitches [including the changeup] worked very well for me today."

It also helped that he has a breathing technique to calm down on the mound. Mark Campbell, who is the team's director of mental conditioning, is the reason Gonzalez is enjoy the game again.

"[Campbell] has definitely helped me out," Gonzalez said. "He has a little catch phrase for me. It's 'feed the family." It worked today. I was constantly slowing the game down. Get back to that situation. Go back to those words. I feel great."

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.