No shutout, but Gonzalez still brilliant vs. LA
ARLINGTON -- Only two outs away from another masterpiece Tuesday, one pitch sent Rangers rookie right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez walking back to the dugout with the score tied in what eventually became a 3-2 Rangers' win against the Dodgers.
Baseball can be cruel like that.
On Gonzalez's only real mistake of the night, Justin Turner took an inside fastball into the left-field stands, silencing for a moment the burgeoning talk of ChiChiMania and putting the game in jeopardy.
Gonzalez was supposed to throw a two-seamer that would move inside, but it stayed straight, and Turner took advantage.
"The whole game was emotion," Gonzalez said. "It was fun, rolling through the innings. … The low was the home run. We were pounding everybody inside the whole game, just waiting for who was going to make the adjustment, and he made it."
Luckily for Gonzalez, Rangers closer Shawn Tolleson worked out of a jam to keep things intact. And in the bottom of the ninth, Robinson Chirinos -- Gonzalez's battery mate -- sent the emotional roller coaster on a return trip upward with a walk-off home run.
Gonzalez's outing -- only the fourth of his career -- didn't end up being so picturesque, but it was still impressive to say the least.
He went 8 1/3 innings, allowing only the two runs on five hits.
He did all this on 105 pitches and only needed two strikeouts to dominate a Los Angeles lineup that entered the game leading the National League in home runs, RBIs, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and extra-base hits.
"Very mature outing," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "He was on the attack all night long, a lot of early contact outs, seemed to have a lot of movement on all pitches, split the plate in half, had some really good hitters taking some not-so-good swings."
Through four Major League starts, Gonzalez a 0.90 ERA. He is the first Ranger to allow two runs or fewer in each of his first four career starts since Darren Oliver in 1995. He also extended Texas' streak of quality starts to 12.
Gonzalez has already built a high degree of confidence from Banister and pitching coach Mike Maddux, as evidenced by the decision to leave him in the game in the ninth after he had walked Howie Kendrick.
This instance didn't work out exactly as planned, but after another sterling performance, the confidence keeps climbing.
"It's building with every outing, really," Banister said. "It's one of those things where you watch the composure, you watch the type of pitches, and you watch him attack the strike zone and getting early contact outs -- it's high confidence."