PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla — The goal for Tom Gorzelanny Tuesday night in Port St. Lucie was simple: to pitch better than the did in his debut, a 2.1 inning performance that brought up questions about his viability as the Nationals fifth starter.
He tailed off a bit in his final two innings but Gorzelanny was certainly better this time around, tossing four innings, allowing just two hits but walked three and gave up the game-tying run to the New York Mets in the bottom of the fourth. The Nationals lost 5-2.
In his debut, he allowed three runs off five hits and three walks.
“I felt good out there,” Gorzelanny said. “I felt like I was locating pretty well and making all my pitches work… It’s definitely the best I’ve felt (this spring) and I’m really happy with the way everything is working.”
“I thought he looked real good,” said Nationals manager Jim Riggleman. “I was really pleased. His ball was down, seemed to be some movement. He got behind a couple of guys, came right back and got some swings and misses — which indicates maybe the ball was moving a little bit.
“I thought he was a lot better than his first one.”
He finished Tuesday after 65 pitches, 36 strikes — but threw 39 of those pitches in the third and fourth innings and only 18 of them were strikes. The left-hander was much more efficient at the start (26 pitches, 18 strikes through two innings) but given the fact that it was the most he’s thrown all spring, that could simply be attributed to tiredness.
“My slider (came back) a lot better this time than it did last time,” he said. “I was able to locate it better and make a better pitch out of it in certain counts so I felt good about it today. I felt good about all my pitches.”
It is the third straight start where a Nationals starter has given up one run or less in at least four innings of work.
Gorzelanny will throw a scheduled bullpen on Thursday and then will look toward building on this start in his next appearance.
“That’s why we’re here, to build up and get our pitch counts up and get as many innings as we can before we get out of here,” Gorzelanny said. “I only got three innings, not even than many (in my first start). I felt (tired) a little bit (tonight) but it was great to get there and get that distance and get stretched out and get out here so now I can build on that next time.”
Reliever Craig Stammen came on after Gorzelanny and allowed three runs off four hits and a walk in 1.2 innings and the Nationals couldn’t recover from there.
Rodriguez also better the second time out: Reliever Henry Rodriguez was much better this outing than his first, Riggleman said. Reporters were in the clubhouse talking to Gorzelanny when the flamethrowing right-hander was on the mound, but Riggleman gave him a rave review after the game.
“He was really throwing good,” Riggleman said. “I don’t know what the velocity was but he was firing… He was much better than the first time.”
The first time Riggleman was referring to was a 1/3 inning performance on Sunday where Rodriguez allowed a hit and walked three batters, walking in a run, in his debut with the team.
He pitched one inning on Tuesday, giving up two hits and an earned run but no walks.