Michael Gonzalez's career in Baltimore hasn't played out as he had hoped when he signed a two-year, $12 million deal before the 2010 season. But as his turbulent Orioles career possibly winds down, the left-handed reliever is finally doing what the club paid him to do — pitch with the game on the line, and do it well.
"Being in the bigger situations, that's what has driven me my whole career," Gonzalez said before Tuesday night's game against the Toronto Blue Jays. "That's an adrenaline rush for me. That puts me on another level. Obviously, [Orioles manager Buck Showalter has] been giving me more opportunities, and I'm very thankful for the opportunities. But I also feel confident because they feel confident."
Entering Monday's 3-2 loss to the New York Yankees, Gonzalez had retired seven straight batters via strikeout over two appearances. The streak was broken when the first batter he faced in the eighth inning, Brett Gardner, flied out to left field.
But Gonzalez pitched two scoreless innings against one of baseball's highest-scoring offenses, allowing just one hit. And his sprawling stop and throw to retire Jorge Posada at first base in the ninth inning was a featured highlight on ESPN's "SportsCenter" on Tuesday. "I'm just glad I didn't look like an idiot," he said with a wide grin.
Gonzalez didn't smile often in the first half of the season. He had a 5.46 ERA in 311/3 innings before the All-Star break, and fans at Camden Yards were as hard on him as opposing hitters. Gonzalez has rebounded in the second half, though, and has gone 13 consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run.
"You feel their pain. You feel the tough times they're going through. But you try everything possible to try to help them," Showalter said, adding: "He's in a good place right now. He's a good weapon for us."
It is believed that Gonzalez has cleared waivers, so there is still a chance he could be traded to a contender before Thursday, the deadline for teams to acquire players eligible for the postseason. If not, the 33-year-old hopes to make the most of what possibly could be his final few weeks with the Orioles.
"I'm a Baltimore Oriole right now, and I'm going to go out there in the next month and give them everything I've got," he said. "Obviously, I didn't start the way I wanted to here in Baltimore, but I'm going to try to finish strong and leave some good memories."
Patton not out of woods
Lefty Troy Patton will return to Houston and miss the game against the Detroit Tigers on Sept. 22 to attend an orientation meeting for a court-directed drug-and-alcohol treatment program. It is part of Patton's sentencing for a drunken-driving arrest this offseason in Texas.
If he completes the program, a six-month probationary period and 16 hours of community service, Patton said, he expects the arrest will be expunged from his record.
"If I do it right, I will be done in February, right when I am leaving [for spring training]," said Patton, who is 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 11 games this season. "And I won't have to deal with it at all next year."
Patton missed the past two games because he had to return to Houston for a court appearance and couldn't get a flight back in time Monday. He twice has been placed on the restricted list to deal with court appearances.
"It's not a judge or lawyers' [fault]. It's self-inflicted, OK?" Showalter said. "So you do what they want you to do. It's not somebody else's fault. So we'll make that adjustment when it happens."
To make room for Patton on the roster, Mark Hendrickson, who was recalled temporarily to replace Patton, was placed on optional waivers. He likely will clear and be sent back to Triple-A Norfolk. The 37-year-old veteran will remain on the 40-man roster.
Hobgood to disabled list
Orioles minor league righty Matt Hobgood, the club's top pick in 2009, has been placed on the seven-day disabled list at short-season Single-A Aberdeen.
"He didn't feel comfortable making his next start, so we placed him on the disabled list," Orioles player development director John Stockstill said.
Hobgood had his shoulder examined by Orioles orthopedist Dr. John Wilckens, and no specific injury was diagnosed, Stockstill said.
It's possible Hobgood could make one more start for Aberdeen in the IronBirds' season finale Sunday, but that scenario is unlikely.
Hobgood, 21, who was selected fifth overall out of a California high school in 2009, is 0-6 with an 8.76 ERA in 13 combined games this season for the IronBirds and the Gulf Coast League Orioles.
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