Righty perfect through four, allows one run over six
By Cody Stavenhagen
CHICAGO -- Miguel Gonzalez was perfect through the first four innings in Thursday's 3-1 White Sox win against the Nationals. He ended up throwing six innings, giving up only one run on three hits. With a chance to lock down a rotation spot in his hands, he delivered.
Yet after his big outing, the result a needed win for he and the team, Gonzalez stood up straight, hands behind his back, and credited his catcher.
"I think [Dioner] Navarro did a really good job back there changing speeds," Gonzalez said.
Navarro calling an excellent game might be the case, but Gonzalez was the one executing the pitches. Thursday, he had complete command, particularly excelling in getting ahead with his fastball and mixing in the occasional offspeed to tie up Nationals' hitters.
"He was fantastic," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "[Daniel] Murphy got him for the homer, but I just thought he was in control, in the strike zone, taking a little off. It's what we needed. If anything, the way the last few days have gone for us, you need some length and you need a guy to shut them down. I think he did all of that."
Murphy broke up Gonzalez's perfect-game bid with his homer to lead off the fifth, but that was all the Nats got against Gonzalez, who earned his first win since July 25, 2015, when he was with the Orioles.
He preserved that win by escaping a jam in the sixth. With no outs and runners on second and third, Tyler Saladino made a key play on a Chris Heisey grounder, throwing home to cut down Jose Lobaton at the plate.
With Bryce Harper on deck, Gonzalez came through in the game's biggest at-bat, inducing a Jayson Werth ground ball that became an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play. That composure helped the White Sox snap a five-game losing streak. Navarro gave all credit to Gonzalez.
"We needed a great outing from Miguel, our bullpen battling through some stuff here lately," Navarro said. "He did a great job. He gave us six strong innings, and the bullpen came in and did their job. It felt really good."
For Gonzalez, this marked his first victory in his past 15 starts. Entering this game, he had received only an average of 3.27 runs of support this season, including two runs or fewer in four of his six starts.
But Gonzalez has been good lately, registering a 2.70 ERA over his past four starts. That has helped him seemingly secure a spot in the back end of the rotation after the team designated Mat Latos for assignment earlier in the day.
Gonzalez had little to say about the potential meaning of this start, but when reminded how long it had been since his last win, he finally cracked a smile.
"Yeah. Definitely [feels good]," Gonzalez said. "It's been a while."
Cody Stavenhagen is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.