Chi Chi cruises until running into trouble in 4th
Right-hander retires first 10 Blue Jays before allowing homer to Donaldson
TORONTO -- Chi Chi Gonzalez was cruising along until he left a full-count fastball over the plate in the fourth inning on Sunday. That's the pitch Josh Donaldson took over the wall in left-center field to spot the Blue Jays a lead they'd never relinquish in a 3-2 victory over the Rangers at Rogers Centre in the series finale.
It's the same pitch that derailed what was early on a potential bounce-back start for the Rangers' right-hander.
"The home run hurt a little bit, any home run does. It threw me off a little bit," said Gonzalez, who retired the first 10 batters he faced before surrendering the dinger to Donaldson. "It kinda made me more cautious."
Those challenges carried over in the fifth inning, when Gonzalez was hit around for three hits and two runs as the Blue Jays' lead climbed to 3-0. After issuing a leadoff walk, he allowed three hits in a row before walking Jose Bautista. Gonzalez lasted another inning, coming out of the game following a quick 1-2-3 sixth, but the damage had already been done.
"I got away from my game of staying down in the zone," said Gonzalez, who induced five ground-ball outs and registered three strikeouts over three innings to keep the powerful Blue Jays bats at bay early on. "I started elevating balls."
The 23-year-old's fourth quality start came on the heels of what was his worst outing of the season. He gave up six earned runs over 5 2/3 innings against the A's and entered Sunday looking for redemption.
He pitched well enough, but timely run support evaded the rookie's outing as the Rangers went 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position and Gonzalez dropped his third straight decision.
"I felt he pitched well enough to give us an opportunity to get back into the ball game," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said.