How does a pitcher go from a record of 0-7 and 5.40 ERA in the minors to a mark of 7-4 and 3.52 ERA in the major leagues and win key games for a team in a pennant race?
I don’t know, but Miguel Gonzalez has done it.
The right-hander that the Orioles signed as a minor league free agent on Feb. 28 - after spring training had already started - has become one of their most reliable starting pitchers a year after he didn’t win a single game in the minors.
On a team that has likely been baseball’s biggest surprise in 2012, Gonzalez is likely the most surprising player.
On a team that meets every challenge, so has this right-hander who missed all of the 2008 and 2009 seasons due to knee and elbow injuries. Last year, he pitched just 56 2/3 innings and most of those were with Portland, the Red Sox’s Double-A Eastern League affiliate.
Not only could no one have predicted he would do this back on opening day, but probably very few people even knew his name or who he was then. He’s got everyone’s attention now.
Gonzalez is 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA in eight starts since Aug. 1. He is 5-2 with a 3.03 ERA on the road. He beat the Yankees twice on the road within a 33-day span. The last O’s rookie to beat New York twice on the road within a 33-day span was Tom Phoebus in 1967.
On July 6, Gonzalez outpitched Angels left-hander C.J Wilson. On Aug. 5, he matched zeroes with David Price and the Orioles beat Tampa Bay 1-0 in the 10th. On Aug. 31, he outdueled Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda and last night, he got the win and outpitched Jon Lester as the O’s beat him for the first time ever.
Gonzalez has shown amazing poise out there. He is so calm and relaxed. He almost looks like he could nod off. But show any signs of fear or nerves? No, he doesn’t ever do that.
This is Gonzalez’s eighth season and he finally made the majors. An overnight sensation at 28.
Orioles fans are glad he’s here and he just may be the biggest surprise on a team full of surprises this year.