You wouldn’t have known Miguel Gonzalez missed nearly a month the way he pitched on Tuesday night.
Activated off the disabled list prior to the game, the right-hander kept the Detroit Tigers under wraps as the White Sox evened a three-game series with a 2-0 victory in front of 15,155 at U.S. Cellular Field. Jose Abreu continued his onslaught with two more hits, including a solo home run and Gonzalez allowed six hits in 6 1/3 scoreless innings for the White Sox.
“I don’t know if you could expect much more out of him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Coming off the DL and against a lineup like this, he was sharp and breaking stuff getting enough of the plate to get guys swinging.”
Similar to Tuesday, the White Sox didn’t really know what to expect when Gonzalez joined them for the first time in April. Waived late in spring by the Baltimore Orioles, Gonzalez signed a minor league deal the day before the season began. He didn’t first pitch for the White Sox until later in April and didn’t become a full-time member of the starting rotation until May.
But with one year of team control to go, Gonzalez has almost assured himself a spot in next season’s rotation.
Prior to Tuesday, Gonzalez had only made a Thursday start at Triple-A Charlotte and several bullpen sessions since his went on the DL.
Yet the rust from a groin strain that sidelined him since Aug. 11 didn’t show against the Tigers, a team that had scored 30 earned runs off Gonzalez in 30 innings in his career.
He quickly got through the top of Detroit’s lineup with three grounders in the first and retired the first five men he faced. After pitching around jams in the third and fourth inning — he put two men on base in each — Gonzalez retired nine in a row. He struck out J.D. Martinez and Justin Upton with two aboard in the fourth and got Casey McGehee to fly out to end the inning. Gonzalez then retired the side in order in the fifth and sixth innings.
The White Sox brought Gonzalez back in the seventh inning, but pulled him after McGehee hit the second single of the inning. Dan Jennings recorded one out and walked another before Nate Jones struck out Cameron Maybin to strand the bases loaded.
Gonzalez allowed six hits and struck out four. In his last nine games, Gonzalez has a 2.38 ERA in 53 innings pitched with eight quality starts.
“The most important thing is trying not to do too much when you’re out there,” Gonzalez said. “It’s been a while since I’ve gotten off the mound and pitched a real game. Being able to control that and make my pitches was the biggest thing tonight.”
[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]
Jones pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings. David Robertson pitched around a single and a walk in the ninth to convert the save.
Abreu gave Gonzalez a little breathing room in the second inning when he crushed a 2-2 slider from Matt Boyd — the ninth pitch of the at-bat — for a solo homer. The drive traveled an estimated 419 feet.
Boyd kept Detroit within striking distance with seven strong innings. The White Sox’ only other run came in the fifth inning when Omar Narvaez followed Jason Coats’ one-out double with an RBI single to make it a two-run game. Narvaez also walked.
It was enough to make a winner of Gonzalez, who improved to 3-6.
“You didn’t really know what to expect, but this was pretty indicative of how he pitches,” Ventura said. “He pitches to contact, moves it around the plate. I thought his poise and everything was outstanding.”