Going Gonzo in a close game (Reynolds leaves with bruised arm)

Michael Gonzalez is entering today’s game with two runners in scoring position, no outs and the Orioles trailing 5-3, in the seventh inning.

Gonzalez has been used in non-pressure situations, but Alfredo Simon can’t go any further. He’s logged 4 2/3 innings, plus two batters in the seventh, and thrown 75 pitches. It’s pretty obvious that he’s gassed.

Simon deserves serious praise for holding Tampa Bay to one run so far and sparing the bullpen of excessive use.

Manager Buck Showalter has pretty much been able to hide Gonzalez since that 15-inning game against the Yankees on May 18. He doesn’t have much choice today.

Instant update: Gonzalez got a pop up and a strikeout, but No. 9 hitter Kelly Shoppach lined a two-run single into left field. Rays 7, Orioles 3.

Gonzalez, making only his third appearance since May 27, struck out Johnny Damon to end the inning. Pretty impressive. Except for the Shoppach at-bat.

Simon allowed three runs, but only one earned. Mark Reynolds committed his second error of the day. His defense is becoming more of a concern.

Down on the farm, Game 2 of Double-A Bowie’s doubleheader against Portland was rained out. The Baysox are off tomorrow, so Steve Johnson must wait until Tuesday to pitch. That’ll be 2 1/3 innings in 14 days for Johnson, whose schedule was disrupted when the Orioles transferred Mike Ballard from Triple-A Norfolk to Bowie.

At least he’ll be rested.

Update II: The Orioles scored twice in the bottom of the seventh. They just won’t go away.

They loaded the bases with no outs, so two runs don’t really satisfy.

Second baseman Sean Rodriguez made two nice plays to record outs as runs scored.

Robert Andino has replaced Reynolds at third base. Reynolds left the game with a bruised left forearm. He was drilled by a scorching Rodriguez grounder in the fifth inning.

Today’s attendance: 22,032

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