Although Miguel Gonzalez wasn't the Baltimore Orioles starting pitcher named to the All-Star team, he's clearly been the most reliable member of their rotation the past two months.
Gonzalez has produced seven straight quality starts in an impressive stretch he'll try to continue Saturday night as the visiting Orioles face the Texas Rangers.
Chris Tillman became the fifth Orioles All-Star earlier this week when he was named as a late replacement for Justin Verlander. While Tillman ranks among the AL leaders with 11 wins, Gonzalez (7-3, 3.48 ERA) is better in ERA, opponents' batting average, WHIP and innings per start. The biggest difference between the two is run support, with Tillman receiving 6.29 per game compared to 4.46 for Gonzalez.
The Rangers (54-42) saw just how effective Gonzalez has been lately in a 3-1 loss July 11 at Camden Yards, as they were limited to four hits and one run over 6 2-3 innings.
"His mechanics are so smooth it doesn't look like he's getting it up there very fast, but he must have, because we couldn't square him up," Texas manager Ron Washington said.
Gonzalez held the Rangers' No. 2-5 hitters to one single in 12 at_bats as he moved to 5-1 with a 2.49 ERA in seven starts since the beginning of June.
Baltimore has won all of the right-hander's eight home starts this season, but is 2-6 in his road appearances despite Gonzalez posting a 3.14 ERA in those games.
After losing two straight to the Rangers last week, the Orioles have rebounded with three consecutive wins in the series, including a 3-1 victory Friday. Wei-Yin Chen pitched into the seventh inning and Matt Wieters hit a solo homer to lift Baltimore (54-43) to its fifth win in six contests.
A victory Saturday would move the Orioles a season-best 12 games over .500, but they may have to do it without any production from slugger Chris Davis, who went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts Friday and continues to struggle against his former team. He's 4 for 38 (.105) with 23 strikeouts versus Texas.
The Rangers' loss was their fifth in six games, a stretch during which they have gone 4 for 37 with runners in scoring position. They were hitless in 10 attempts Friday.
Texas failed to homer after going deep at least twice in each of its previous five home games. Nick Markakis robbed Adrian Beltre of a home run with a leaping catch in the fourth inning and added an RBI double in the fifth.
``That was a great play. ... He had a big part in the game tonight,' teammate Nate McLouth said. ``As far as right fielders, he's about as good as they come. He can swing the bat a little, too.'
Ross Wolf (1-2, 2.14) faces the Orioles for the second straight start and third appearance in a row. Pressed into his second career start after an injury to Yu Darvish, Wolf was very good opposite Gonzalez on July 11, giving up solo homers to Brian Roberts and Davis and one other hit in six innings.
Those home runs were the first allowed this season by Wolf, who pitched five innings of one-run ball to beat Oakland 3-1 on May 22 in his first start.
The right-hander, who had a short stint in the Baltimore organization in 2012, retired the only batter he faced in relief against the Orioles on July 8.
The Associated Press News Service
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