|Gio and I at Citi Field|
In May 2009, I saw him signing autographs on the concourse at a table in Sacramento, California before a River Cat game we were at. I got to speak to him for the first time. He had a great attitude. I knew it was only a matter of time before Gio got his chance to prove he's a major leaguer.
After making his debut with the Oakland Athletics in August 2008, he wound up going back down to Sacramento in 2009. As a result, that turned out to be a blessing because I had the privilege of meeting him in person.
Since then, I've kept close tabs on him. He finally got back to the major leagues later in 2009.
In 2010, he proved that he deserved to stay by having a breakout season. He finished his first full season in the majors with a 15-9 record and a 3.23 ERA.
This year Gio built on his 2010 campaign. He started off the season very well.
On June 21st, I got to see him before the game at Citi Field when the Athletics came to play the Mets in an interleague matchup during batting practice. The next night I got to see him pitch in person at the major league level for the first time. After always missing him by a day in Yankee Stadium, Cleveland and Kansas City, my opportunity finally presented itself. Like Gio, I'm a preserver. Gio pitched well for 7 innings but he left the game with the score tied at one. The Mets eventually won in extra innings. Gio didn't disappoint me.
With his performances improving as the season went on, he was selected to be a member of the American League All-Star team. He got to appear late in the game and he recorded a strikeout in his cameo appearance. I was so happy for Gio. He has worked so hard to get where he is today.
After the All-Star break, Gio did hit a bad stretch where he didn't pitch well. That's part of the maturation process. Gio proved it was a fluke because down the stretch, he pitched lights out to finish the season strong.
In matter of fact, the last game of the season he was on the mound in Safeco Field while the Red Sox and Braves were choking their seasons away. My eyes were focused on Gio who was busy dominating the Mariners. Gio continues to fly under the radar screen. It's only a matter of time before he becomes the center of attention.
With that being said, that could happen at the end March 2012 when the Oakland Athletics go to Japan to play the Seattle Mariners to open the season.
Gio compiled an impressive 16-12 record with a 3.12 ERA in 2011. He threw 200 innings and he struck out 202 batters.
The King and I saw the Mets and the Cubs open the season in Tokyo back in March 2000.
I would welcome the opportunity to go back to Japan. I would not only get to see Gio pitch more than likely but we could also see our friend Sean MacDonald who lives there. We didn't meet him until 2003.
I don't know what's going to happen for us in 2012 just yet but I expect Gio to continue to climb the ladder to stardom in the major leagues.
Thank you for reading and following along.