BALTIMORE — A potentially great homecoming for Miguel Gonzalez on Friday night was bamboozled by a rookie who had been promoted only a day earlier.
Fighting off an abundance of emotions, Gonzalez looked good against the team that released him only 13 months ago. But the Baltimore Orioles got a huge boost from Gabriel Ynoa, who pitched six scoreless innings in relief. Behind Ynoa the Orioles held off the White Sox 4-2 in front of 20,302 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Gonzalez was saddled with the loss despite allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings as Ynoa shut down the White Sox after entering in the middle of the first inning.
“Everything was going on in my head,” Gonzalez said. “This is where I started my career in the big leagues. The Orioles gave me my first opportunity. But now I’m with the White Sox, happy to be here and we’re doing a good job.”
The best effort of the night belonged to Ynoa, who was promoted on Thursday. He entered the game with two outs in the top of the first inning when the White Sox literally knocked Orioles starter Wade Miley out of the contest.
Jose Abreu hit the first of two direct shots back at Miley when he lined a ball 103 mph off the pitcher’s wrist for a single, one of three hits for Abreu. After several warmup tosses and a demonstration that he was fine, Miley was allowed to remain in the game. But he only last two more pitches before Avisail Garcia lined one 102 mph off Miley’s backside, which led to the veteran pitcher’s exit. Miley officially exited with a left wrist contusion.
Ynoa — who on April 7 allowed seven runs (five earned) and 10 hits in 2 2/3 innings to the White Sox Triple-A Charlotte squad — didn’t flinch as he made his warmup tosses, entered the game and retired Matt Davidson to end the first inning with two aboard. Ynoa retired 16 of the first 20 he faced and pitched well into the seventh inning.
Ynoa allowed six hits, walked none and struck out five while throwing strikes on 69 of 101 pitches. His biggest escape of the night came in the fifth inning with Baltimore ahead 2-0 when he got Abreu to chase a 2-2 slider for a strikeout with the tying run aboard. The White Sox also stranded a pair in the first and eighth innings, leaving 10 men on base overall.
“Yeah it throws a wrench into things, but nothing we aren’t used to,” Davidson said. “That was kind of a crazy first inning. Kind of slowed things down.
“(Ynoa) threw pretty good, made pitches when he needed to and we really didn’t put anything together. But nothing out of the ordinary.”
Friday was anything but ordinary for Gonzalez, who pitched in Baltimore for the first time since he was released last March. Gonzalez spent the first four seasons of his career with the Orioles and went 39-33 with a 3.82 ERA in 101 games. He last pitched at Camden Yards on Sept. 30, 2015 and brought a 17-14 mark with a 3.94 ERA in 46 games (43 starts) in Baltimore into the contest.
Two hours before the game, Gonzalez was locked in as he sat on the bench in the White Sox dugout during batting practice. The right-hander also received a nice ovation from his former home crowd when he was announced before the bottom of the first inning.
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Perhaps a case of nerves as well as an extra out courtesy of his defense’s inability to make a play led to a shaky first inning for Gonzalez. Shortstop Tim Anderson dove in front of Tyler Saladino, which resulted in a leadoff single for Seth Smith. Gonzalez then walked Chris Davis, allowed a single to Mark Trumbo and hit Jonathan Schoop with the bases loaded to force in a run.
But a fielder’s choice got Gonzalez out of the jam and he found a rhythm, retiring 11 of 12. Davis hit a solo homer off Gonzalez in the third to make it 2-0 but that was it. The right-hander retired the last six he faced and allowed six hits and two runs with a walk and five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.
“Coming back at Camden Yards, the fans were happy to see me,” Gonzalez said. “Emotion. A little too much amped up. Settled down after that.”
The White Sox defense never quite settled in. Cody Asche couldn’t handle a Davis grounder that went for a one-out single in the eighth inning off Dan Jennings. After Joey Rickard doubled in a run to make it 3-1, an error by Anderson — his seventh — led to another run. The defensive misplays gave the Orioles enough room to hold off Gonzalez and the White Sox.
“(Gonzalez) did a great job,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “We gave him a few too many outs, actually. In the first, on the ground ball in the shift, kind of overplayed it a little bit. Other than that, he had to work through inning, giving up one run, working through all that traffic — really nice job. It was a couple of runs allowed, but not because he didn’t have a really good idea of what he wanted to do. I thought he was very effective. Again, you can’t give a club like that too many outs.”