Gio Gonzalez: Mike Trout stopper?

Washington Nationals starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez heads to the mound to start a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals at Nationals Park Friday, April 18, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

brushback_harperMike Trout has become the consensus best player in baseball, a hitter scouts, seamheads and statisticians can love in equal measures. He can do everything there is to do on a baseball field, but there is one thing he hasn’t done yet that he will have a chance to change Wednesday night: reach base against Gio Gonzalez.

Gonzalez faced Trout nine times when he pitched for Oakland in 2011 and Trout had just reached the majors. Gonzalez retired Trout in every meeting and struck him out six times. No major league pitcher has faced Trout as often as Gonzalez without allowing a hit or a walk.

Gonzalez concedes their previous meetings may not have been fair. In 2011, Trout was adjusting to the majors while Gonzalez was becoming one of the nastiest left-handers in baseball. Trout did not resemble the player who has finished second in the AL MVP race two years running.

“He was a young guy getting his feet wet,” Gonzalez said. “He had a lot of power, a lot of speed. Talked about a lot. But he didn’t play a lot because he was still getting his feet wet up there. They were right about him. The Angels were completely right about him. Obviously, now he’s the face of baseball.”

Gonzalez, naturally, did not want to share too much about how he approached Trout. But he hinted that he wouldn’t rely very much on their prior meetings.

“He’s just a good hitter, one of those guys, they make adjustments quick,” Gonzalez said. “You just got to try to constantly mix it up with him. He’s just a solid hitter. There’s no weaknesses with him.”

The Nationals didn’t shut down Trout in Game 1 on Monday, but they held him in check, allowing two singles in five at-bats. Gonzalez studied his teammates and said he wouldn’t fall back on the success he has had against Trout.

“As soon as you’re done with that at-bat, you just try to turn the page and prepare for the next one,” Gonzalez said. “Like I said, a good hitter always makes the adjustment. You get them once, all right, tip your cap. Twice, they’ll start figuring you out little by little. The way technology is getting nowadays, they have everything on you, from the pitch to certain counts, situations, how you like to throw people. That’s how far and deep they’ve gone in pitching. With hitters like that, this guy, keep the ball down and hopefully he hits it at somebody.”

FROM THE POST

Taylor Jordan surrenders career home runs No. 499 and 500 to Albert Pujols as the Nationals fall, 7-2, writes Adam Kilgore.

FROM YESTERDAY’S JOURNAL

How Tom Sherrill caught Albert Pujols’ 500th home run, gave up the ball

Albert Pujols hits career home run No. 500 off Taylor Jordan

Rafael Soriano, Drew Storen have bounced back big from last season

Doug Fister throws three innings, Adam LaRoche has quad soreness

Nationals recall Aaron Barrett, send down Xavier Cedeno

Nationals starting pitching is slowly trending up

NATS MINOR LEAGUES

Syracuse 4, Louisville 1: Ryan Tatusko allowed one run on four hits and struck out three over six innings to earn the win. Zach Johnson and Tyler Robertson combined to fire three scoreless. Steven Souza Jr. went 1 for 3 with two RBI. Will Rhymes added three hits. The Nationals beat old friend Chien-Ming Wang.

Altoona 7, Harrisburg 0: Felipe Rivero allowed six runs on nine hits and walked three over 3 1/3 innings. Destin Hood went 2 for 4 and is hitting .396. Caleb Ramsey also had two hits.

Potomac was off.

Hagerstown 4, Augusta 3: Lucas Giolito allowed three runs, two earned, on three hits and three walks over four innings. He also struck out five batters. He has a 2.65 ERA over 17 innings. Wander Suero picked up the win with four scoreless innings of relief. Wilmer Difo went 3 for 4 with two RBI. Estarlin Martinez and Rafael Bautista each had two hits.

Also on Nationals Journal

How Tom Sherrill caught Albert Pujols's 500th home run, gave up the ball