It was hard to tell watching live on TV that pitcher Gio Gonzalez had hit a home run for the Washington Nationals at Citi Field on Wednesday night, and apparently it was hard for Gonzalez, too. Rather than going into a stylistic trot after going deep against New York Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon, he hustled almost all of the way around the bases as if an inside-the-park homer were at stake.
Gonzalez's hit had cleared the fence but not a railing above it, so the ball bounced back onto the field. Unaware that umpires had signaled "home run," and encouraged to sprint after seeing outfielder Andrew Brown jog after the ball, Gonzalez even was egged on by third-base coach Bobby Henley, who earnestly waved him around the bag. Gonzalez kept on sprinting.
Reorter Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post relayed what was going through Gonzalez's mind:
“The way I was running, I was like ‘I got a chance,’ ” Gonzalez said. “I was about to slide home.”
He finally slowed down near the plate when Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud showed pity and told Gonzalez to cool his jets. Gonzalez has three career homers, one in each of the past three seasons. His mad dash against the Mets provided some levity in a 5-1 victory for the Nationals in which Gonzalez also struck out six over six innings.
All of Kilgore's post about the Nats' second game of the season should be required reading about manager Matt Williams' first year as manager, but the stuff about Gonzalez's home run is especially precious. Even after he scored, Gonzalez still didn't seem 100 percent sure of what happened.
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,” (Ian) Desmond said. “That’s going to go down in the memory bank for a long, long time.”
And it's a good lesson for you Little Leaguers at home: When in doubt, hustle like you're running from the cops. And always listen to your coach, even if he's pranking you, because everyone else will laugh.
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