Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez stumbled through a two-run first inning Sunday, but he recovered to allow just two more hits through the next five frames in the Orioles’ 4-2 win over the Cleveland Indians at Camden Yards.
“The first inning was a little frustrating for him,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He was good. He didn’t break.”
Despite tying a season-high with four walks, Gonzalez recorded his third straight quality start and has allowed three or fewer runs in nine of his 10 starts this season.
Gonzalez sandwiched the first of four walks between two singles to open the game, and the Indians took a 2-0 lead after just five batters on a pair of sacrifice flies.
But Gonzalez settled down quickly and didn’t allow another hit until the fifth inning, scattering two singles, three walks and a hit batter over his final five frames.
“They were aggressive in the first inning,” he said. “Just told myself, ‘Just let it go.’ Just let it go and make pitches and let them get out. Try not to be too fine.”
Indians catcher Carlos Santana gave Gonzalez the most trouble, working walks in the first and fifth innings and taking first base when he was brushed by a pitch in the third
But Gonzalez erased the latter two by inducing a pair of ground balls. On his 100th and final pitch, he escaped a one-out walk in the sixth by forcing a weak roller to shortstop J.J. Hardy.
"We were fortunate to hold them to two runs [with the four walks],” Showalter said. “The last out he got was big, obviously.”
Gonzalez hasn’t surrendered more than four runs in any of his past eight appearances. Since allowing seven runs in his season debut against the Detroit Tigers on April 4, he boasts a 3.37 ERA.
"No doubt we needed this one," said Nelson Cruz, who hit his major league-leading 16th homer in the win. "The way Gonzalez threw the ball, he struggled in the first inning, after that he shut it down."
Gonzalez also became the only Orioles starter to hold the Indians to fewer than four runs in the four-game series against Cleveland.
“Miguel threw a [heck] of a game,” said third baseman Manny Machado, who put the Orioles ahead for good with a home run in the fifth inning. “He stayed in there, they scored those two runs early, and then we came back and scored some runs. He kept battling and kept making great pitches, and hopefully he can continue that and carry that on to his next start.”