Top 12 of ‘12: #7 – Gi-000000000
The Nationals returned to D.C. for their longest homestand of the season in late August, beginning with four games against the defending World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals. After Edwin Jackson twirled a gem in the series-opening 8-1 victory, Gio Gonzalez took the hill against St. Louis for the first time in the regular season, and also for the first time since a rough Spring Training outing back in March. Whatever adjustments Gonzalez made between those two appearances obviously worked, as he set the Red Birds down in order the first time through the lineup, and did not allow a hit until the fifth inning.
As the offense piled up runs behind him – leading 6-0 through three frames and 8-0 through five – Gonzalez kept dealing away, retiring eight straight to earn the ball back for the ninth inning. Having just thrown his first-ever complete game earlier in the month, the southpaw put the finishing touches on his first career shutout, retiring Shane Robinson on a flyout to center field on his 119th pitch of the night. The performance keyed Gonzalez’s run of five wins in his final six starts, propelling him to the most wins in baseball and a third-place finish in the NL Cy Young race.