Homers, rain hurt Gonzalez in loss to Detroit
Right-hander goes 3 1/3, gives up pair of home runs after delay
DETROIT -- The Orioles' arrival into Detroit was rocky on Thursday night, as the team had trouble securing a plane and didn't land until 3:30 a.m., a scenario made worse with the looming afternoon game.
But the player who struggled the most in the cold, rain-soaked conditions on Friday afternoon was the only one who avoided the travel delay: right-hander Miguel Gonzalez. The Orioles starter, sent to Detroit in advance of Thursday night's game, was uncharacteristically wild and ineffective over 3 1/3 innings, as Baltimore dropped its third consecutive contest, 10-4, to the Tigers.
"I don't think he had a feel for the baseball," manager Buck Showalter said of Gonzalez, who tied a career high with seven earned runs allowed. "And same way with [Tigers starter Anibal Sanchez] and some of their pitchers. You could see that with a lot of pitches. This time of year, the balls are slick and it is tough. But everybody's got challenges.
"We didn't make whatever adjustments you can make in the weather. But Miguel is better than that, we know that. You could tell he never really got into a comfort zone. You don't see him miss by as far as he was missing today on some pitches."
The series-opening defeat to the Tigers was the latest in a disturbing very early-season trend for the sluggish Orioles (1-3) who have yet to receive a quality start.
"What else would would you expect? After the night we had last night, it wasn't going to be easy," said Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, who was working on about five hours of sleep along with his teammates after a weather issue in Ohio delayed the team's scheduled charter plane until 1 a.m.
"That's the beautiful thing about it; we get a chance to do it again tomorrow. Obviously, we looked a little flat today. It was kind of nice to see the guys push again at the end. Fight back a little bit. But they pretty much took it to us today."
And Gonzalez bore the brunt of it, as the right-hander -- who came back out following a 34-minute rain delay in the middle of the fourth inning -- surrendered seven earned runs on nine hits and a walk, with two hit batsmen.
"It's tough when you don't have your secondary pitch, especially when your fastball command is not as good as it was last year," said Gonzalez, who stayed loose during the delay by throwing in the batting cages. "I just got to fix that and I'll be alright."
Up two early, courtesy of Chris Davis' first-inning double, Gonzalez gave back the lead in an ugly three-run second in which he hit a pair of batters and watched the go-ahead run score on a wild pitch.
"Getting in late last night kind of affected the team a little bit, but this is baseball. You've got to come ready and prepare every day, no matter what the circumstance is," catcher Steve Clevenger said. "[Gonzalez] was just up in the zone a little bit today. He really didn't have his breaking ball. He really didn't have much of anything today. He just tried to battle through it."
After Austin Jackson's leadoff double in the second, Gonzalez walked Alex Avila and Tigers prospect Nick Castellanos laced a ball into right field for his first Major League RBI. One out later, Gonzalez hit Rajai Davis with a pitch, and Ian Kinsler tied the game at 2 with a single to center field.
On that play, the O's were fortunate that Castellanos ran through a sign at third base and Adam Jones fired the ball in to Chris Davis, who hit third baseman Jonathan Schoop for the second out. Gonzalez plunked Torii Hunter after that, earning a chorus of boos from the crowd, and his wild pitch to Miguel Cabrera scored the inning's third run.
Gonzalez allowed a pair of runners to reach in the bottom of the fourth, on a single to left and a bunt single, before play was suspended due to heavy rain with an 0-1 count on Rajai Davis.
Davis didn't mind the delay, clobbering Gonzalez's seventh pitch for a three-run shot when play resumed. Hunter got revenge after being plunked as well, sending a 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall to stretch the Tigers' lead to five.
"[Gonzalez] is better than that," Showalter said. "But he won't use [the conditions] as an excuse."
True to form, Gonzalez pointed out that Sanchez -- who went four innings -- and every other pitcher was dealing with the same weather.
"No complaints," he said. "Just got to go out there and make pitches. It was the first one, might as well get it out of the way. Better now than later."
The Orioles' offense twice put the first two men on in an inning but couldn't score. Chris Davis and Nelson Cruz each walked in the fourth, but Sanchez got Clevenger to ground out, Schoop to pop up and Ryan Flaherty -- who remains hitless on the season -- to strikeout.
The O's put two on again to start the fifth on Steve Lombardozzi's single and an error -- which Tigers manager Brad Ausmus challenged and lost -- that saw Lombardozzi confirmed safe at second and Nick Markakis reach first. But reliever Drew Smyly got a pair of flyouts and struck out Chris Davis looking to end the inning.
"I don't think anybody wanted to play in those conditions, but we had to do it," Chris Davis said. "It's just one of those games where you knew the odds were stacked against you going into it, but you still got to go out there and compete."
Orioles reliever Josh Stinson followed Gonzalez and allowed one run on four hits over 2 2/3 innings. Ryan Webb, who had a 1-2-3 seventh, gave up a first-pitch two run homer to Cabrera in the eighth -- his 2,000th career hit -- to put Detroit in double digits.
"We didn't do some things well," Showalter said. "I'll chalk this one up to the challenges that hopefully we won't face every day. But the Tigers are a pretty good club, obviously."