On Thursday night at Camden Yards, Miguel Gonzalez gave the Baltimore Orioles one of his best outings of the season, going 6 2/3 very strong innings for the Birds against an extremely dangerous Texas Rangers offense.
Gonzalez (7-3, 3.48 ERA) allowed only one run on the night, a solo shot from Rangers’ DH Ian Kinsler in the 6th inning. The right-hander limited Texas to 4 hits and 2 walks during his time on the bump. He also struck out 4.
Never getting himself into too much trouble, the lone “jam” he faced in the 5th inning was fixed when he got Adrien Beltre, who coming in had been swinging a very hot bat, to ground into an inning-ending double play. Gonzales has now made a string of terrific starts for Baltimore, whose starting rotation may finally be falling into place if he, Wei-Yin Chen, and Chris Tillman all find consistency on the mound. Gonzales has given up more than 3 runs in a game only once this year (05/31 against Detroit, 5 runs), so if he can continue his hot streak, the O’s will be in good shape.
The Orioles did not muster a ton of offense against Texas starter Ross Wolf, but it was enough. Chris Davis tacked on to his already-inexplicably-good season with a home run in the 2nd inning (34), and the recently healthy Brian Roberts added another dinger in the 3rd (2). Davis’ shot raised his RBI total to 86 on the season. Baltimore would not score again until the bottom of the 8th inning, when Nate McLouth singled home Matt Wieters to give the O’s a 3-1 lead. They only had 6 hits in the ballgame, but they made them count.
Jim Johnson came on in the 9th inning after Troy Patton and Darren O’Day stymied the Rangers in relief of Gonzalez. While Johnson seemingly never likes to make it easy, as he allowed 2 hits, he did get AJ Pierzynski to ground into an easy double play, and ended the game with a Jurickson Profar groundout to first. He picked up save number 31 on the year along the way, which is enough to lead the majors, even with the handful of blown saves he’s had this year. It says a lot about Johnson and Buck Showalter that the skipper has stuck with him through his struggles. Baltimore will need him down the stretch, so hopefully his problem are solely in the past now.
The Orioles will close out the first half of their season with a three game set against the Toronto Blue Jays this weekend, before heading into the All-Star Break, when Davis, Manny Machado, Adam Jones, and J.J. Hardy will be playing for the AL squad. Davis will also participate in the Home Run Derby. The Toronto series starts tonight at Camden Yards at 7:05 ET, with Tillman (10-3, 3.92) squaring off against Mark Buehrle (5-5, 4.50). Baltimore will look to gain a little ground on both Boston and Tampa Bay, who face Oakland and Houston, respectively.