Focused Gonzalez showing promising signs

Focused Gonzalez showing promising signs

Focused Gonzalez showing promising signs
ARLINGTON -- Rangers reliever Michael Gonzalez retired all six batters he faced when he came in to relieve starter Matt Harrison in Tuesday's 10-4 win against the Indians.

Even though Gonzalez carries a 5.79 ERA since joining the Rangers on Aug. 31, he has held opposing batters to a .133 batting average against, a sign that his ERA will come down if he continues to pitch the way he has recently. While both sample sizes are small, it is part of a larger trend in which Gonzalez has held opponents to batting .125 over the last 17 games.

"I like to say it's the consistency; consistency is key," Gonzalez said. "I had times early in the season where I was taking a week off. Just like anything, with consistency comes command, with command comes confidence, and before you know it, you're rolling."

Gonzalez said that being in the pennant race sharpened his focus from where it was with the fifth-place Baltimore Orioles, who were 27 games out of the Wild Card race when Gonzalez was acquired by the Rangers.

"Now you're playing for something," Gonzalez said. "Before, it was kind of, not selfishly, but there were three weeks left and you knew you weren't going anywhere. You'd try to pad numbers or do things selfishly like that. Now, every single game since I've gotten here is the most important game of my career, so I'm taking that in stride."

Gonzalez's closest contact with a playoff race came in 2009 for a Braves team that finished third in the National League East, going 86-76. They didn't come within four games of the first-place Phillies after Independence Day.

"You come in to a team like this with such great chemistry, you don't really have to do anything," Gonzalez said. "You just have to go along and follow suit. They expect you to do you. If I do me and everyone else does what they're doing, we're going to get far."

For Gonzalez's career, he has held lefties to a .210 batting average, and lefties are hitting .202 this season against Gonzalez. It is likely that, going forward, the Rangers will count on him to retire left-handed hitters. Four of the six batters he faced in those two innings were left-handed.

"He's getting outs, that's the bottom line," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He's a little wild, but it's effective. He gets outs, that's what he's been doing."