Zach Wilt: Miguel Gonzalez has become one of the Orioles' best stories

This Orioles team has been chocked full of surprises. From Chris Davis earning the win after a wild 17 innings at Fenway Park to scoring 11 unanswered runs in the Bronx and climbing out of a five-run hole to beat the Bombers.

Recently in Baltimore, a new pleasant surprise has emerged and he goes by the name, "Miguel Gonzalez."

As Orioles fans, we are so used to spot starters burning out our beloved bullpen and costing our favorite team wins. We became accustomed to the likes of Chris Jakubauskas, Mitch Atkins and Rick VandenHurk, not the effectiveness that 28-year-old journeyman Miguel Gonzalez has provided.

Gonzalez was called upon by the Birds on May 29 to serve in long relief. He appeared in two games, allowed two earned runs over 7 1/3 innings and recorded a lovely 3.5 K/BB ratio in those outings. He was sent back to Norfolk on June 9 when the Orioles recalled Tommy Hunter.

After three starts with the Tides, Gonzalez was once again promoted to Baltimore on July 1, again swapping spots with Hunter. He worked innings five to nine in the Orioles' 6-2 loss to the Indians and then was thrown into the rotation five days later.

After six starts, it appears Gonzalez has rightfully earned his spot among the O's starting five. Baltimore has won four of the six games that Gonzalez has started and he has pitched into the sixth inning in five of those outings.

He has certainly been put to the test over the last month. The righty has defeated the Angels in Anaheim, the Indians in Cleveland, the Yankees in New York and most recently the Rays in Tampa Bay.

Gonzalez's only poor start came on July 25 against the Tampa Bay Rays when he took the mound with flu-like symptoms and left after just 2 2/3 innings. If you overlook that outing, Gonzalez has recorded a 2.72 ERA and a 2.76 K/BB ratio. But if you can't erase that outing his numbers are still pretty solid, 3-2, 4.05 ERA, .238 opponents average and 1.83 K/BB ratio.

Is Gonzalez's season as big of a surprise to Dan Duquette as it is to Orioles fans? Did pitching guru Rick Peterson tweak something that made him so effective this year? I wish I had the answers.

He has been great story, a critical part of keeping the Orioles in wild card contention while Jason Hammel gets healthy and could arguably be the O's most pleasant surprise of the year. We are 109 games into the season with nearly a third of it left to go. Who knows what could happen over those next 53 games? This season has taught me to never be surprised.

Zach Wilt blogs about the Orioles at Baltimore Sports Report. His views appear here as part of MASNsports.com's season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our roster of writers.

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