ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez has tied his career high today by issuing five walks in five innings. It’s happened three times this season, including April 12 and July 5 against the Yankees.
Continually falling behind in the count, Gonzalez played with fire and got burned in the fifth when Desmond Jennings smacked a three-run homer to give Tampa Bay a 3-0 lead at Tropicana Field.
Gonzalez walked the eighth and ninth hitters in the Rays lineup to open the inning. David DeJesus flied to left field as Steve Johnson warmed in the bullpen.
Catcher Steve Clevenger visited the mound as Gonzalez fell behind Jennings. On the next pitch, Jennings established a career high with his 14th homer.
Gonzalez has allowed only two hits. It’s the walks that are hurting him.
Oh yeah, and one swing from Jennings.
Gonzalez has allowed 19 runs in the fifth this season, most of any inning. He’s given up 15 in the sixth. Twelve of his 24 homers have come in the fifth and sixth.
Johnson is no longer warming. The bullpen is quiet again.
Johnson has pitched once in September, going one-third of an inning on Sept. 8. That’s it.
He wasn’t just loosening his arm today. He was knocking off the rust.
“He took a pretty good side (recently). Touch and feel,” said manager Buck Showalter.
“Everybody’s going through that. (Josh) Stinson hadn’t pitched for seven days. This time of the year, it doesn’t take very long to get back into it. If it’s June and you’ve been out seven days, you’ve got a problem. Or if it’s April.”
Nate McLouth singled leading off the sixth, giving the Orioles two hits off Alex Cobb. The next three batters were retired, including strikeouts by Chris Davis and Adam Jones.
Cobb has nine strikeouts in six scoreless innings.
Update: Gonzalez is charged with three runs and two hits in six innings, with five walks, two strikeouts and a home run. He threw 96 pitches, 54 for strikes.
Francisco Rodriguez has replaced him in the seventh.
The Orioles have three hits today, one more than the Rays. Cobb has 10 strikeouts, so fans here get a free pizza.
The Orioles haven’t scored in their last 18 innings. Walks obviously hurt Gonzalez today, but the lack of run support also was an issue.
Update II: Rodriguez gave up two runs in the bottom of the seventh, leaving the Orioles in a 5-0 hole.
Yunel Escobar and Jennings tripled. Jennings matched his career high with four RBIs today.
Another run scored on Ben Zobrist’s single.
Jones had to chase down both triples and appeared to be in some discomfort, but he stayed in the game.