Before Game 4 of the National League Division Series, Gio Gonzalez put the onus on teammates to make a statement that “there will be a Game 5.”
Apparently, the man who was set to pitch in that potential Game 5 for the Washington Nationals was confident about getting the chance all along.
“Gio was telling me days ago: ‘We’re going five, we’re going five, Skip. Don’t worry about it, we’re going Game 5,’ ” manager Davey Johnson recalled.
After Jayson Werth blasted Lance Lynn’s pitch over the fence in left field to give the Nats a 2-1 walk-off win in Game 4, Gonzalez went back to Johnson and said: “‘What did I tell you, what did I tell you?’ ” the manager said. “These guys are all geared up for the moment.”
Gonzalez will get the ball and the opportunity to face the St. Louis Cardinals again at 8:37 p.m. Friday, and there’s no one teammates would rather have in that situation.
“He’s a Cy Young candidate. He’s one of the best pitchers in the game,” reliever Tyler Clippard said. “I think we’re all really happy to get to Game 5 with him on the mound.”
Gonzalez, who spoke hypothetically about a Game 5 Friday afternoon, was not made available to speak to reporters following the Nationals’ emotional victory to stave off elimination.
Suzuki OK after scare
Catcher Kurt Suzuki had a scary moment in the third inning when a piece of John Jay’s bat splintered and hit him in the right arm. He had to be attended to by trainers but remained in the game.
“I ended up with the barrel, I think. It was the part that snapped, the sharper side, that got me,” Suzuki said. “It kind of spun, helicoptered hit me in the knee, ricocheted and got me in the arm.”
Suzuki stayed in the game and called one that turned out to be masterful as Nationals pitchers gave up three hits and struck out 10 . He gave no real thought to leaving.
In the playoffs, you don’t feel no pain,” Suzuki said.
Johnson on Girardi’s switch
When New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi opted to pinch-hit for Alex Rodriguez with Raul Ibanez in the ninth inning Wednesday night, he knew that would have led to led to plenty of second-guessing if it didn’t work out. Ibanez’s tying home run off Baltimore Orioles closer Jim Johnson and then, later, his walk-off shot, made Girardi look like a genius.
Asked about the move, Johnson talked about his time with the Cincinnati Reds in 1995 against the Atlanta Braves when he didn’t change things up with struggling Ron Gant and Reggie Sanders.
“Ray Knight even suggested I not hit them third and fourth, but I didn’t like [that]; they got us there. They were going to have to do it to get us to the final dance and they didn’t do it,” Johnson said.
“I still think even a slumping star has the best chance. But that was obviously a great move in New York.”
The Reds wound up losing to the Braves, the eventual World Series champions.
“That’s the toughest decision a manager ever has to face,” he said. “I’ve never really hit for the middle of my lineup, pinch hit for them. There’s times maybe I’ve thought about it, but I haven’t pulled that trigger.”
Around the horn
Adam LaRoche’s first-inning homer represented the first run scored at home by a D.C. Major League Baseball team since Oct. 7, 1933, a three-homer by Fred Schulte in the sixth inning of Game 5 of the World Series. … Bryce Harper was 0-for-3 and dropped to 1-for-18 in the series.