Miguel Gonzalez had an ERA of 2.00 four starts into 2017 and looked to be building on what was a strong debut season with the White Sox. But he’s struggled since that high-water mark, with his outing against his former club Wednesday night being no different.
After a 90-minute rain delay and being spotted an early lead, Gonzalez allowed eight unanswered runs to send the White Sox to a 10-6 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in front of 20,008 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Gonzalez, in his last nine starts, has a 7.31 ERA and has allowed 71 hits, 18 walks and 11 home runs with 25 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings.
"I think it’s one of those things where he’s been trying to finish hitters snd he hasn’t been able to get it done," manager Rick Renteria said. "He’ll get ahead and then they seem to be able to battle him and fight him and in some instances they end up getting pitches that they can handle. So it’s something he’s still been working on.”
The White Sox handed Gonzalez an early 5-1 lead, with Tim Anderson delivering a two-out, two-run single in the first and Matt Davidson homering in second before some sloppy defensive play by the Orioles allowed two more runs to score.
But Gonzalez gave back three runs in the fourth on a bases-loaded groundout — on which Todd Frazier errantly threw home instead of taking the out at first base — and Hyun Soo Kim’s two-out, two-run single. Disaster struck in the fifth, again with two outs, when Gonzalez allowed singles to Mark Trumbo and Trey Mancini before walking Jonathan Schoop. Welington Castillo followed by blasting a fastball off the center field batter’s eye for a grand slam, giving Baltimore the lead for good.
Gonzalez struggled to put hitters away in the fifth, getting Trumbo to two strikes before he singled and issuing a walk to Schoop on a 3-2 pitch. That’s been a recurring problem for him during this rough stretch.
“I’m one pitch away, and it’s been like that the whole year, but I’m sure it’s going to change at some point,” Gonzalez said. “I’m going to put my head down and keep working hard, and good things are going to happen.”
Gonzalez posted a 3.73 ERA in 135 innings for the White Sox in 2016 (solidified by a 3.71 FIP), so he knows he can pitch successfully in Chicago. Getting back to that level, though, is easier said than done.
“It’s not easy, but I’ve been there before and I’ve had success,” Gonzalez said. “Right now I’m struggling. I just have to keep working between my starts and hopefully everything will turn around.”
The Orioles tagged on two runs off White Sox right-hander Juan Minaya in the sixth to finish up their scoring. Minaya was optioned to Triple-A after the game, with a corresponding move to be announced before Thursday afternoon’s series finale.
If there was a bright spot for the White Sox on a long Wednesday night, it was Avisail Garcia, who hit two soft singles in his first two-at-bats then ripped a double down the third base line in the seventh. Wednesday was Garcia’s 10th three-hit game of the season, tied with the Washington Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman for the most in the majors this year.