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Question of the Day
It might not be such a special place for the Washington left-hander anymore.
Facing his former club for the first time since being traded away following the 2011 season, Gonzalez had a nightmarish afternoon after giving up a pair of three-run home runs to former Nationals’ farmhand Derek Norris in a 9-1 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Sunday.
“It’s always nice to come back to Oakland and see some familiar faces and enjoy it, but I still got a job to do,” Gonzalez said. “Obviously, it was a different story today.”
It was a rough return to the Coliseum for Gonzalez, who pitched for the A’s for four years and was making his first start against his former club.
Washington’s left-hander labored through 4 1-3 innings and gave up seven runs and nine hits. He struck out four and walked three in his worst outing in Oakland since giving up 11 earned runs to Minnesota on July 20, 2009.
Gonzalez (3-3) was also caught on television yelling at a teammate in Washington’s dugout after the second. Earlier in the inning, the Nationals allowed a high pop-up by Yoenis Cespedes to fall to the turf and roll foul. Cespedes eventually walked before the next batter, Norris, hit his second two-out home run of the day.
“Nothing happened,” Gonzalez said when asked about what happened in the dugout.
Both of Norris‘ home runs came on identical two-out, 3-0 pitches from Gonzalez. Norris, who spent five seasons in Washington’s minor leagues, was also part of the trade that sent Gonzalez to the Nationals.
It’s the first multi-homer game of Norris‘ career. The six RBIs are tied for the most by an Athletics catcher since 1914.
“Everyone knows (Gonzalez) has good stuff and you have to get on him early,” Norris said. “It just happened to work out a little bit better than it initially was planned out to be, not once but twice.”
Before the game, Washington placed first baseman Adam LaRoche on the disabled list with a right quad strain. LaRoche, who has five home runs and 21 RBIs, joins Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman and outfielder Bryce Harper on the DL.
Without its top three hitters, Washington did little offensively.
Oakland starter Scott Kazmir retired the side in order five times in the first six innings, and the Nationals were on the verge of being shut out for the second time in three days until Zach Walters’ RBI single off Jim Johnson with two outs in the ninth.
“We got manhandled today,” Washington manager Matt Williams said. “(Gonzalez) didn’t have a breaking ball early and missed with his fastball and they made him pay for it. That was the story of today.”
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