Michael Gonzalez recorded his first save tonight since the third game of the 2010 season at Tropicana Field.
Yes, it’s been that long.
Ending a nine-game losing streak is never easy.
So what was it like for manager Buck Showalter to watch a starting pitcher throw strikes, go seven innings and give his team a chance to win?
“Kind of reminds you of the formula,” he said. “Obviously, Alfredo (Simon) was really good. Most innings, he’s been. Pretty close to his pitch count. We were going to go six to seven or pitch count, whichever came first. Trying to keep in mind his history. He was good. He was the difference tonight. Probably the best feeling was putting up a run in the first and going out and putting up a zero in the second. Haven’t had that in a while.
“It’s just a reminder this is a formula for good baseball, something we were doing some, and we need to get back to it. We’ll see if (Mitch) Atkins can do it tomorrow. He’ll have his work cut out for him against a good team. Sometimes, you’ve got to see it, what it means on the field. We made it a little interesting there at the end, but we made it stand up. We knew at the time where they were in the order that the base hit by Felix (Pie) was big.”
Pie’s two-run double in the eighth became huge when Kevin Gregg gave up three runs in the ninth.
“There were a lot of borderline pitches going both ways with both clubs,” Showalter said. “It happens on some nights. Kevin made some pitches that didn’t go his way, and so did their guy, but Brian (Knight) was pretty consistent all night, so that’s all you can ask. But you always like tack-on runs, especially when you have the top of their order coming up and the firepower they have. Michael came in and got a big out against a really good hitter.
“Couple times this year we thought Michael was going to get it going. He had some back-to-back good outings, and sometimes three, and then he’d kind of fall back with some tough ones. I think his last two to four outings have been pretty good return. I hope he can take this and build on it. It would mean a lot to us for the rest of the season.”
Credit Simon with maintaining his concentration and composure while awaiting another trip to the Dominican Republic.
“That’s something that I take note of, but I think there’s a lot of things in people’s lives - obviously not as serious as what’s going on in his - that players have to somehow put out of their mind a little bit for three, two hours. Whatever it is,” Showalter said. “Where his life is concerned, where he is right now, it’s a little different scale. I’m sure he feels a little better getting on the plane tomorrow after having a good outing.”
Nick Markakis had two doubles, a home run and three runs scored. His average is up to .297.
“He’s had a real consistent approach,” Showalter said. “Nicky’s a tinkerer. He wants perfection every night and if it’s not there, he’ll tinker. But he’s been locked into an approach and attack for a while now and he’s getting a good return from it. It’s good seeing Nick with a couple doubles and a home run he wasn’t trying to hit. Just happened from a good swing from I believe a breaking ball middle in and down. He’s been real consistent with his approach and he’s getting a return for it.”
Showalter announced the roster moves after the game, which I detailed in my previous entry.
Asked whether Troy Patton could get some starts or be used out of the bullpen, Showalter replied, “Statisically, he’s having a good year. He’s capable of doing both, but we’re looking for length out of the bullpen, especially with Boston being so left-handed, and this club.”