When people think of Nolan Ryan the first thing that always comes to mind is his prowess as a chef and now the Hall of Famer is writing a cookbook: The game’s all-time strikeout king is also a longtime Texas rancher and has compiled dozens of his favorite recipes for “The Nolan Ryan Beef Cookbook.”…
On numerous occasions throughout Saturday night's disappointing start — four, to be exact — Gio Gonzalez found out first hand just how pesky the St. Louis Cardinals lineup can be.
"We knew they could hit," manager Dusty Baker said. "It's not that easy to hit with runners in scoring position."
Despite striking out the side in the first, Gonzalez had trouble finishing off the Red Birds in the following frame. He had three Cardinal hitters in two-strike, two-out situations, and they responded with a flurry: A Jedd Gyorko walk, an RBI single by Greg Garcia, and an RBI double by Matt Carpenter (which came after an RBI double from pitcher Adam Wainwright) to make it 4-0. And a few innings later, Gio was once again one strike away from escaping before allowing another RBI two-bagger, this time to Randal Grichuk to extend the lead to 6-2.
"That out pitch, we didn't have it today with two strikes," said catcher Jose Lobaton. "We needed that fastball in or that curveball in the dirt. And sometimes he threw some curveballs that really got in the dirt, and they didn't swing.....you're gonna find some good hitters, or good days for the hitters, and it's gonna happen, what happened today."
Indeed, Gonzalez' inability to put hitters away was the story of his night; five of the six earned runs he allowed came with two outs. The result was his shortest outing of the season at 4 2/3 innings.
"My biggest [disappointment] right now is how much work I’m giving my bullpen," he said afterward. "I can’t stand it.
"I’m a way better pitcher than what I’m showing out there. And it sucks that [the bullpen] guys are constantly picking up my mess. As a pitcher, I pride myself on being the guy that can go the distance and work his tail off."
Gonzalez has now allowed 13 runs over his last two starts, a troubling trend for someone that to this point was having a bounce-back campaign. In the last two outings alone, he's had his ERA rise from 1.93 to 3.57.
Of course, two poor starts does not a season make, and Gonzalez by and large has shown that he's an improved pitcher over what he was last year. That said, he'll have reclaim his good form sooner rather than later to quell any fears of a regression to 2015 Gio.
"Just continue to be strong mentally," Gonzalez said. "Just keep finding a way. Eventually it will tilt over and things will start to go my way again. And I think that’s all it is. I’ve got to be more aggressive, more positive on that mound. I can’t let it spiral out of control."
By TATE STEINLAGE, Associated Press
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) -- Gyasi Zardes had his first two-goal international game, 17-year-old Christian Pulisic became the youngest American scorer in the modern era and the United States routed Bolivia 4-0 in an exhibition Saturday night to sweep its three warmup matches for next month's Copa America.
Zardes scored in the 26th and 52nd minutes around defender John Brooks' goal in the 37th. Pulisic, the youngest foreigner to score in the Bundesliga, got the final goal in the 69th minute. At 17 years, 253 days, he bettered the mark set by Juan Agudelo (17-359) against South Africa in 2010.
The 29th-ranked Americans had their largest victory margin against a South American opponent, beat opponents from that continent in consecutive matches for the first time and swept their three warmup matches by a combined 8-1 after defeating Puerto Rico and Ecuador.
At the Copa America, the U.S. plays fourth-ranked Colombia on Friday in the opener at Santa Clara, California, then faces Costa Rica four days later at Chicago and closes the first round versus Paraguay on June 11 at Philadelphia.
Alejandro Bedoya assisted on the first two goals against 79th-ranked Bolivia.
The U.S. went ahead after Geoff Cameron played a 20-yard pass to Clint Dempsey, who flicked the ball to Bedoya on the right flank. He in turn lofted a one-touch pass over a shoulder of Zardes, who streaked past defender Nelson Cabrera and let the ball take a bounce. Zardes one-timed a right-footed shot from 19 yards over onrushing goalkeeper Guillermo Viscarra, who was making his international debut.
Brooks doubled the lead after U.S. captain Michael Bradley rolled a through pass on a free kick from 35 yards out to Bedoya, who burst past Carmelo Algaranaz and from the corner of the 6-yard box made a sliding cutback pass in front of the goal. Brooks, 21, redirected the ball in with his left foot from 7 yards for his third international goal. Brooks scored late against Ghana to win the Americans' 2014 World Cup opener and also got a goal in an exhibition win at the Netherlands last year.
Zardes, 25, scored again after playing the ball back to Bradley in midfield. He lofted a pass to Bobby Wood on the left side of the goal, Wood crossed to Zardes, who beat defender Luis Gutierrez and scored again with his left foot, this time from 6 yards. Zardes has five goals in 26 national team appearances.
Pulisic, who made debuts for Borussia Dortmund in January and the U.S. in March, scored after Jermaine Jones forced a turnover. Jones exchanged passes with Darlington Nagbe, who ran past three Bolivians and rolled the ball into Pulisic's path. The teenager slid the ball to Viscarra's left from right of the penalty spot, causing many in the crowd of 8,894 to chant his name.
U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann shifted Matt Besler, normally a central defender, to left back in his starting lineup and started Michael Orozco at right back. Fabian Johnson replaced Besler at the start of the second half and DeAndre Yedlin came in for Orozco, joining Brooks and Cameron in central defense, the first time the likely back four for the match against Colombia played together. Cameron had not played since injuring a hamstring in Stoke's season finale on May 15.
Bedoya and Jones flanked Bradley, who dropped back in a defensive midfield role; Zardes and Wood played aside Dempsey; and Brad Guzan started his fourth straight match in goal, making the lineup for the first 18 minutes of the second half the possible starting 11 against Colombia. That array was broken up when Pulisic and Nagbe replaced Zardes and Bedoya.
Postgame analysis of the Nationals' 9-4 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday night at Nats Park.
How it happened: The Cardinals offense didn't waste much time in this one, jumping on Nats starter Gio Gonzalez by building a 4-0 second-inning lead thanks to three straight two-out hits with men on base. Washington briefly got back in the game in the bottom of the frame as Ryan Zimmerman launched a two-run home run to cut the deficit to 4-2.
However, the tough times continued for Gonzalez. He promptly yielded a solo shot to Matt Holliday in the third, and then in the fifth gave up an RBI double to Randal Grichuk to make it 6-2 St. Louis, ending the lefty starter's night earlier than he or the Nats would have liked.
Washington would get two runs back on solo home runs from Bryce Harper and Zimmerman, but the red-hot Cards lineup was simply too much on this night. Matt Adams came through with a pinch-hit two-run double to pad the lead to 8-4 and essentially put things out of reach.
What it means: After starting the season series off with four straight against the Cardinals, the Nats have now dropped back-to-back games to St. Louis. At 29-21, Washington is still in a virtual tie for first place in the NL East with the New York Mets.
Another rough outing for Gio: Well, so much for the idea of Jose Lobaton spurring a rebound start for Gonzalez. Even though he was throwing to his usual catcher this time, Gio struggled for the second straight outing, allowing six earned runs on six hits and four walks over 4 2/3 frames. What doomed him the most Saturday? His inability to finish innings when he was ahead in the count. Though he had multiple opportunities in two-strike, two-out situations to exit a frame unscathed, he instead allowed a series of crippling run-scoring hits. Indeed, five of the six runs Gonzalez yielded against the Cards came with two down, a frustrating stat considering that there were moments where he looked like he was going to settle down.
Daniel Murphy, record breaker: In only his second regular season month with his new team, Daniel Murphy has already etched his name in the Nats record books. His second-inning single was his 41st hit in May, breaking Denard Span's club mark for hits in a month. Murphy's average on the season is now at an eye-popping .390 through nearly two months.
Up next: The Nats will look to salvage a series split Sunday afternoon as they send Stephen Strasburg (8-0, 2.79 ERA) to the mound to oppose the Cardinals' Michael Wacha (2-5, 5.04).