For the second time in the past six days, Washington Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez took the mound to make a rehab start Thursday with the organization’s single-A affiliate, Potomac Nationals.
In his first rehab start for shoulder inflammation, Gonzalez pitched two solid innings, before coming undone in the third and fourth inning. His final stat line was 3.2 IP, 7 H, 8 ER, 4 BB, 2 K and 65 pitches (34 strikes).
Much like his previous start, Gonzalez ran into trouble in the third inning. After allowing just two base runners (both walks) to reach while throwing 33 pitches through the first two innings, he needed 28 pitches to get through an inning which he faced six batters. Most of the damage came with two outs as he gave up an RBI single before recording the third out.
Gonzalez then settled back in to finish off his outing strong. He needed just 18 pitches to get through the fourth inning and picked up three strikeouts around a two-out single. Over four innings of work, he gave up two hits, one earned run, walked four, struck out seven and threw 79 pitches, 45 for strikes.
“A lot better,” said Gonzalez when asked about his outing. “It was one of these games where I needed to bounce back.”
Following his first outing, Gonzalez said that it was merely fatigue that caused him to struggle in the third inning. In start number two, that was not the case.
“It feels great,” said Gonzalez when asked about his shoulder. “It felt like I was a little more on top of the ball this time. I felt right where I needed to be.”
After a much stronger start, a return to the big-league club in time for his next scheduled start seems possible.
“I know I’m ready to be in there,” said Gonzalez. “I’m ready to go. I’m ready to slot myself in there. My arm feels great. I’m ready to go up and do my part as the starting pitcher.”
Should he return for his next scheduled start, it will be on June 18th against the Houston Astros.
Brian Skinnell is a sports writer born and raised in the Washington, D.C.-metro area. He’s had work published on Yahoo Sports and Rant Sports, and has made several radio show appearances across the country to discuss his works. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+!