The 28-year-old Gonzalez, who signed as a minor-league free agent in February, has assembled impressive numbers in the Bronx, so getting the call from Orioles manager Buck Showalter to start the first game in New York had to be by design.
“I like pitching in big games,” Gonzalez said. “That’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been doing it for the last eight years in Mexico especially. I have a little bit of experience in the playoffs in Mexico, not here in the states, but I think I’m just going to stay within myself and make good pitches and get them out as fast as possible.”
In Mexico, Gonzalez played for a Mazatlan team that regularly made the postseason. He also went to the playoffs with Mexicali.
Yankee Stadium is obviously different, but Gonzalez has shown remarkable resolve after missing two full years due to reconstructive knee and elbow surgeries.
“Miguel is a talented young man,” Showalter said. “I think sometimes that goes overlooked. He’s a great story of perseverance and a strong will to succeed. He cares about winning. It’s not about himself. It’s about impacting the game on the four days he doesn’t pitch. He likes his teammates and he always has a smile on his face. He’s a guy who is not going to whither from the competition. He’s not a guy who has anxiety about things.”
In his last outing at Yankee Stadium, Gonzalez threw seven shutout innings, holding the Yankees to four hits while striking out a career-high nine in a 6-1 win on August 31. He hopes to go into Wednesday night with the same mentality.
“I try not to change anything and just be myself as I was the whole season, not try to do too much, just stay within myself and follow what fingers [catcher Matt] Wieters is putting down,” Gonzalez said. “That’s what we’ve done all year. We’re not going to change anything. We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing and working hard.”