WASHINGTON — Gio Gonzalez is from Miami. He was good friends with Jose Fernandez.
On Monday, what would have been Jose Fernandez’s 25th birthday, Gio Gonzalez spent time with Jose Ferndanez’s girlfriend and his young child. Then, he took the mound in Miami.
He took a no-hitter into the ninth inning, the longest such bid of his career, then he lost it with three outs to go. But what followed was an absolutely chilling moment, in which the Miami crowd gave Gonzalez — an opposing pitcher — a standing ovation.
How often do you see an opposing pitcher receive a standing ovation? “Not often” is the answer.
But you’d be hard-pressed to find a more touching story than this: On the birthday of a beloved, recently-deceased hometown hero, his close friend, also a native, takes the mound and has perhaps the best game of his career.
It hardly matters that the two teams are division rivals, or that one team is headed for the postseason while the other is headed for a losing record — frankly, nothing but that moment mattered. Even Marlins star Giancarlo Stanton showed his respect.
When the game ended — Sean Doolittle came on to record the final three outs after the ovation — Gonzalez gave a heartfelt, emotional interview with MASN sideline reporter Dan Kolko.
In more or less unrelated news, Gonzalez also did this in the game. He was really into the game.
What a night.