Gio Gonzalez and the Washington Nationals beat the Milwaukee Brewers 10-4 on Saturday, giving the left-hander his major league-leading 20th victory of the season on the same day he surpassed the 200-strikeout plateau for the first time.
Those two milestones were just the latest in an increasingly sepia-toned "first-time-since" list Gonzalez and his teammates have chalked up this season. As if earning the first postseason berth for a D.C. team since 1933 wasn't enough, Gonzalez's strikeout total (201 and counting) made him the first Washington pitcher to top 200 since the immortal Walter Johnson in 1916.
By comparison, Gonzalez becoming the first Washington pitcher to win 20 since Bob Porterfield in 1953 (and the first lefty since Earl Whitehill in 1933) was a relatively ho-hum accomplishment. Though perhaps Gonzalez gets extra credit for reducing the Nationals' magic number to clinch the division to six, with the Atlanta Braves still to play Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia — an achievement Porterfield couldn't experience with the 76-76 Senators.
Pitcher wins aren't valued as much as they used to be by most in baseball, but winning 20 still carries a certain cachet. Only six pitchers have won at least 20 games over the last three seasons, most of them (Verlander, Sabathia, Halladay) unquestionably among the elite at their position. You don't hear Gonzalez's name mentioned alongside those guys' very often, but he has been right there all season for the Nationals.
Gio Gonzalez wins 20th as Nationals rip Brewers
Washington Times | Sep 22