In first start, Miguel Gonzalez gives Orioles exactly what they need

Granted it is just one outing, but the impression that Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez gave in his first big league start -- a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels -- was impressive.

Orioles fans have seen too many pitchers without their fastball command, so they had to like the sight of the 28-year-old Gonzalez working the strike zone aggressively and effectively against an Angels team that is the second-best hitting team in the American League. 

"This team hits mistakes really well, so the key was really location on the fastball first off," catcher Matt Wieters said. "And he did that great. He was able to mix in all three of his off-speed pitches. The split was really working for him. He even used that a little bit right on right, which is a little different. It was big to mix up all his off-speed and use his fastball to keep them off balance."

Manager Buck Showalter has liked Gonzalez's demeanor for a while. He's given the Orioles a calming force working in long relief, and he did the same Friday night.

"You look at the difference in the tempo and the energy just on and off the field," Showalter said. "There’s a reason why crisp defensive plays were made behind him, because guys were in the game and they knew he was going to throw the ball over. ... To be able to present youself professionally is something you look for."

That's exactly what the three starters who have been send to Triple-A Norfolk -- Jake Arrieta, Brian Matusz and Tommy Hunter -- were lacking. When chaos crept in, it snowballed out of control.

"That game we had yesterday was tough," outfielder Steve Pearce said of the Orioles' 9-7 loss Thursday, in which they lost three- and four-run leads. "So it was nice for Miguel to come out there and have a dominant performance. We needed that out of this ballclub.

"If he’s throwing strikes, he’s working at a fast pace, we are going to be ready and he did a great job," Pearce added. "We couldn’t have asked for anything better. He was awesome."

 

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