Although he may not get the opportunity to start in the opening round, Miguel Gonzalez is hoping to earn a spot if the Baltimore Orioles can advance further into the postseason.
The right-hander looks to continue his an outstanding 11-week stretch Sunday when the Orioles try to close ground in the race for the home-field advantage with a series win over the visiting Boston Red Sox.Gonzalez has one of baseball's stingiest pitchers since the beginning of July, but he could give way to Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen and Bud Norris if Baltimore (93-61) goes with three starters in the AL division series.Despite having to work his way through a couple of stints in the minors, Gonzalez (9-8, 3.28 ERA) has made a case to join an expanded rotation in the later rounds by going 5-3 with a 2.03 ERA in his last 11 starts.The right-hander overcame a rocky start to put up another quality start last Saturday. He allowed three runs in the second inning before giving up just one hit over his final four in a 3-2 loss to the visiting New York Yankees.Gonzalez hadn't allowed more than two earned runs in an outing since allowing four versus Seattle on Aug. 2."I think that's the difference in major league pitchers -- guys who can have success out there and keep you engaged in a game," manager Buck Showalter told MLB's official website after Gonzalez's last start.Now he'll try to help the Orioles continue their pursuit of home-field advantage throughout the playoffs following Sunday's 7-2 victory for their 11th win in 13 games."We still have something to prove," said Adam Jones, who hit a pair of two-run homers. "We're trying to catch (the Los Angeles Angels) for the best record overall."Gonzalez is 4-0 with a 2.18 ERA in five career starts versus Boston. He did not get a decision after allowing one earned run over eight innings in a 3-2 loss at Fenway Park on July 5, before giving up six hits over 6 1/3 innings in a 4-1 road win Sept. 8."Well, he made pitches," Boston manager John Farrell said after the last meeting. "He had a four-pitch mix working. He threw a lot of strikes."Farrell's last-place Red Sox (67-88) have averaged 2.8 runs and hit .214 while dropping nine of 13.Slugger David Ortiz provided one of the few highlights Saturday with a first-inning two-run homer. He's gone 4 for 9 with three home runs and five RBIs in the first two games of this series.Joe Kelly (2-2, 4.21) also opposed Gonzalez earlier this month, allowing four runs over 6 1/3 innings. He gave up four runs in the second inning last Sunday, but followed with four scoreless in an 8-4 win at Kansas City.Nelson Cruz, who had two hits when facing Kelly at Fenway, is 13 for 32 during an eight-game hitting streak.Delmon Young is 4 for 6 in this set after finishing with three hits Saturday, while Jones is batting .371 with four homers and 13 RBIs in 17 games versus Boston this season.Steve Pearce could be rested after he was scratched Saturday with a sore right wrist, while Nick Markakis has missed the past three games after being hit by a pitch in the shoulder.