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Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez ends season with superb start

Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez finished his season Thursday night with possibly his best start of 2013.

In the Orioles’ 3-2 win over Toronto, Gonzalez held the Blue Jays to one run over two hits, striking out five and walking one.  

Gonzalez (11-8) finished the season with four quality starts in his final five outings, going 3-1 with a 2.30 ERA in five September starts.

“I thought it was great,” Gonzalez said “I had a couple of up and downs, a couple of struggles, but it’s a part of baseball.”

Over his past two starts, Gonzalez has allowed just four hits over a span of 13 innings. But in his last start, he was hurt by a career-high five walks, two of which scored on a three-run homer by Desmond Jennings in a 5-1 loss Sept. 21 to Tampa Bay.

But on Thursday, Gonzalez said his split-fingered fastball was as good as it’s been all season, and he mixed in his breaking pitches to keep a free-swinging Toronto lineup at bay, even when he fell behind in the count. Gonzalez retired 15 of the final 16 Blue Jays batters he faced and allowed just one hit after Kevin Pillar’s leadoff single in the third.

“It was great,” Gonzalez said. “I was commanding my fastball and my splitty. I threw enough off-speed for strikes for them swing at, and we finished strong.”

Gonzalez battled through some ups and downs. He allowed seven earned runs in a four-inning outing Aug. 30 at Yankee Stadium and went through back-to-back outing in July in which he didn’t get out of the fifth inning. He also didn’t make a start for nearly three weeks in May as he recovered from a nagging thumb blister. He also left his outing two starts ago with a right groin strain that pushed his next start back a day.

"You like to leave a good taste in your mouth, and it's a reminder to everybody of how good he's been for us, and hopefully will be again,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It seems like he's managed the groin pretty good, too. He pushed it a little bit there. He was going hitter to hitter that inning before. But he was good."

Gonzalez finished his first full major league season with 170-plus innings and a respectable 3.78 ERA on the season.

“Miggy's solid,” Wieters said. “He's a guy that's going to go out there every fifth day and give you a chance to win, which is all you can ask for as a team. … He's a fun guy to catch."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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