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Gio Gonzalez flirted with a no-hitter against the Marlins

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July 31 was a special day for Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez. It’s the birthday of pitcher Jose Fernandez, the Marlins’ All-Star who died last September in a boating accident. Gonzalez was a close friend of Fernandez. At Marlins Park on Monday, Gonzalez and Bryce Harper requested to see Fernandez’s baby daughter in Fernandez’s mom’s first visit to the ballpark since his death, Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald reported.

Gonzalez went out and pitched a gem against the Marlins, bringing a no-hitter into the ninth inning. It was broken up when Dee Gordon it a 1-1 curve ball into center field for a single. Gonzalez was lifted at that point, receiving a standing ovation from the Miami crowd. Sean Doolittle came in and wiped out Gordon when Giancarlo Stanton hit into a 5-4-3 double play. After Christian Yelich singled, the lefty got Marcell Ozuna to pop out to end the game for his seventh save.

Over eight innings, Gonzalez gave up just the one hit and three walks with five strikeouts on 106 pitches. He’s now 9-5 with a 2.66 ERA and a 132/58 K/BB ratio in 142 1/3 innings this season. With the win, the Nationals pad their least in the NL East to 14 games.

After the game, speaking to MASN’s Dan Kolko, Gonzalez said, “Tonight was more of an emotional night, kind of like a special night. I got to see the Fernandez family. And what a night.” When asked about Fernandez specifically, Gonzalez said he received a special ball signed with Fernandez’s initials before choking up with tears.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.