Mike Gonzalez blows save in O's home opener

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Mike Gonzalez pulled.jpgMike Gonzalez isn’t doing much to endear himself to Baltimore right now. After blowing a save on Opening Night against the Rays, he proceeded to cough up the lead in Friday’s home opener against the Blue Jays, as well.

Handed a one-run lead in the ninth, Gonzalez didn’t waste any time, walking Edwin Encarnacion, throwing a wild pitch, then surrendering a game-tying double to Travis Snider. John McDonald then pushed Snider to third base with a bunt, setting up Jose Bautista to deliver a sacrifice fly for the game’s decisive run.

The new Baltimore stopper has allowed four runs on five hits over his first two innings of work this season while walking four and striking out three. Regardless, he tells Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com that he’s confident he can shake the early struggles.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that i can get the
job done. I need to turn this around and i need to do it quick.”

Gonzalez has said all the right things thus far and there’s no reason to believe he’s not healthy, but remember that he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007 and is coming off a season in which he made a career-high 80 appearances. Even tossing the inherent health risk aside, it’s one of the offseason’s biggest head-scratchers why the Orioles decided to give a two-year, $12 million commitment to a closer when they aren’t
even expected to legitimately contend this season.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

Associated Press
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On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”