SARASOTA, FLA. -- Right-hander Miguel Gonzalez turned in arguably the best performance by an Orioles starter this spring, tossing six scoreless innings in a 8-0 win over the Atlanta Braves on Friday afternoon.
Gonzalez allowed just three hits with five strikeouts and no walks in front of an announced sellout crowd of 7,725 at Ed Smith Stadium.
“I was pretty happy about my performance,” said Gonzalez, who credited catcher Matt Wieters for calling several first-pitch curveballs. “I thought that was great, changing speeds some.”
Gonzalez was originally slated to start a Triple-A game on Friday, but was given the start against Atlanta when scheduled starter Chris Tillman was scratched with an illness.
He found out he was pitching in the major league game when he arrived at the Ed Smith Stadium complex at 8:30 a.m.
Gonzalez then made quick work of a quality traveling Braves lineup, throwing first-pitch strikes and keeping hitters off balance – particularly with his curveball. Gonzalez faced just one batter over the minimum and became the first Orioles starter to go six full innings.
He was slated to go five innings, but since his pitch count was low, he threw an extra frame. He finished with 73 pitches.
“I thought my offspeeds were there today,” Gonzalez said. “I was pretty happy about the results and just getting ground balls and giving my team a chance to win the ballgame.”
Center fielder David Lough led off the game with a double off Braves starter Gus Schlosser and the Orioles used station-to-station baseball to score the game’s only run.
After allowing the leadoff hit to Lough, Schlosser retired 12 straight Orioles hitters for the Braves (8-14-3).
The Orioles (12-7-1) made a first-inning run hold up with some fine pitching. Zach Britton retired the side in order in the seventh and Ryan Webb tossed a scoreless eighth inning by stranding the tying run at second base.
Baltimore had just three hits heading into a seven-run eighth inning that saw the first eight Orioles batters reach base.
Chris Davis drew a bases-loaded walk from Anthony Varvaro and Nelson Cruz followed with a run-scoring single up the middle. Nick Markakis followed with a two-run single and J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters hit back-to-back RBI singles.
Darren O'Day stranded the bases loaded in a scoreless ninth to preserve the shutout.