Before today, Gonzalez had allowed seven runs and 17 hits over 10 innings in two starts since his return. He seemed to be fine physically. He just hadn’t found the same rhythm.
Two batters into today’s game, Gonzalez already had fallen behind 1-0 to the Rays.
Desmond Jennings drew a leadoff walk and scored on Ben Zobrist’s double to right field. Zobrist was out trying to stretch it into a triple, which would prove costly when Matt Joyce followed with a double.
The Orioles have 18 outfield assists, six of them belonging to Nick Markakis.
Zobrist was 3-for-24 against Gonzalez before today.
Gonzalez struck out Evan Longoria and retired James Loney on a fly ball to end the inning at 21 pitches, including 13 for strikes.
Logan Forsythe walked with one out in the second, bringing catcher Nick Hundley to the mound for a brief chat. Jose Molina flied to deep right, the Rays continuing to square up Gonzalez, but Kevin Kiermaier grounded a single into right-center field. Jennings struck out on Gonzalez’s 42nd pitch of the game.
Forty-two pitches in two innings. Not what manager Buck Showalter wants from his starter.
The Orioles are trying to reverse a few trends today. They’re 19-20 at home, 13-16 in day games and 4-8 on Sundays - including 1-5 at Camden Yards. They’re 14-29 when the opponent scores first.
Update: Matt Joyce homered off Gonzalez with one out in the third to increase Tampa Bay’s lead to 2-0.
Joyce hadn’t homered since May 11.
Gonzalez has thrown 55 pitches, 33 for strikes, in three innings.
Update II: Steve Pearce singled to score Nick Markakis in the third and reduce the Rays’ lead to 2-1.
Nick Hundley led off with a single, his sixth hit in his last 12 at-bats, but he was thrown out at the plate on Markakis’ double. The play wasn’t even close. Hundley didn’t reach the plate until catching Gonzalez in the top of the fourth.
Pearce and Adam Jones followed with singles.
Markakis is the eighth player in franchise history with 100 or more hits in nine different seasons with the club. He now needs 104 to tie Boog Powell for fifth on the Orioles’ all-time list. Yes, I’m still counting.