With a 10-4 win over the Milwaukee Brewers this afternoon, the Washington Nationals pushed their record to 92-59, lowering their magic number for clinching the National League East to six.
In the process, left-hander Gio Gonzalez reached a few personal milestones, joining some elite company in doing so.
After tossing seven innings and allowing two runs on just three hits and a walk, Gonzalez became the first 20-game winner in all of baseball this year. His five strikeouts move him to 201 on the year, marking the first time he has reached 200 strikeouts in his career – pretty impressive when you consider that it is the first time a Washington pitcher has done so since Walter Johnson struck out 228 in 1916.
Today’s outing was just one of many this year that have placed Gonzalez among those favored to win the NL Cy Young Award. On the year, he is now 20-8 with a 2.84 ERA and 201 strikeouts through 193 1/3 innings pitched. Also worth mentioning is his impressive .204 opponents’ batting average, which is the lowest in the majors.
Ask Gonzalez about his success, however, and credit will be given – as it has all season – to his teammates.
“This couldn’t have been accomplished without the team,” Gonzalez said just prior to getting a Gatorade bath from fellow staffer Ryan Mattheus.
But where Gonzalez is unwilling to accept personal praise for his performance, manager Davey Johnson is more than willing to heap it on.
When asked in a post-game meeting with the media whether there were any doubts in the manager’s mind regarding Gonzalez’s candidacy for the NL Cy Young Award, Johnson was quick and sure with his response.
“No. No. Hands down.”
Those left unconvinced still have the pitcher’s two scheduled regular-season starts to be wowed.