Gio Gonzalez got the win and hit his third career home run in Wednesday’s 5-1 win over the Mets. The highlight of the night was Gonzalez’s home run trot, which was really a sprint, because Gonzalez wasn’t sure the ball had cleared the left field fence.
Gonzalez’s drive deflected off a railing over the left field fence. The umpire twirled his hand to signal a home run. Gonzalez never saw him; he only saw the ball trickling back toward the infield and left fielder Andrew Brown giving half-hearted chase. Gonzalez sprinted to second, saw the distance between Brown and the ball and bolted to third, too.
Third base coach Bobby Henley waved Gonzalez home. Arms waving and head bobbing, Gonzalez continued his sprint. He still thought he was trying for an inside-the-park home run.
“The way I was running, I was like ‘I got a chance,’ ” Gonzalez said. “I was about to slide home.”
Mets catcher Travis d’Arnaud spared him when he told Gonzalez to slow down. Gonzalez still cruised about 20 feet past the plate. Gasping for air, he looked up and saw his brother, Max, sitting in the front row behind the backstop. “I was just trying to find an oxygen tank,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez accepted high-fives from giggling teammates as he walked back into the dugout.
“All the bullpen guys told me, ‘You were running away like you were running from the cops,’ ”Gonzalez said. “I don’t know what that is about.”
“That was epic,” Desmond said. “That’s going to go down in the memory bank for a long, long time.”
Gonzalez now has 12 hits in 130 career at-bats and three of those hits have left the park. That’s downright Ruthian. Of Babe Ruth’s 2,873 hits, 714 (24.9 percent) were home runs. Here’s how the Nationals’ two other starters with at least 100 at-bats compare:
Stephen Strasburg: 21 H, 1 HR
Jordan Zimmermann: 34 H, 1 HR
And here’s a look back at Gio’s first two home runs.
Gonzalez saw the fourth first-pitch curveball of his career, a 76-mph offering from the Marlins’ Kevin Slowey, and crushed it to left field.
“Lucky swing,” Gonzalez said. “I think I closed my eyes.”
Gonzalez pitched a complete game and hit his first career homer in a 4-3 win over the Astros.
“You’re going to run into one of those,” Gonzalez said. “I just got a pitch up the air.”
Gonzalez looked into the dugout as he rounded second base, but managed to conceal a grin. The Nationals lined up at the dugout steps to congratulate him, Strasburg smiling widest of them all. Someone tossed a bucket of wrapped bubblegum on him. Chad Tracy squeezed Gonzalez’s helmet with two hands and pulled it off.