Raul Ibanez will be the subject of tomorrow morning’s headlines, but Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez owned the Yankees on Wednesday night. The rookie right-hander struck out eight and walked none in seven innings at Yankee Stadium. The one run he surrendered was the result of Adam Jones taking two steps in on a Derek Jeter “triple” that ended up over the center fielder’s head.
Gonzalez just doesn’t seem to understand the fact that Yankee Stadium is a difficult place to pitch. He’s made three starts there and gone 2-0 with a 2.18 ERA and a 25/1 K/BB ratio in 20 2/3 innings. It would have been 3-0 if Jim Johnson could have held the lead tonight.
The 28-year-old Gonzalez may well be the biggest surprise of all of the surprises on the Baltimore roster. A one-time Angels farmhand, he was selected by the Red Sox in the Dec. 2008 Rule 5 draft. He hurt his elbow the next spring, spent the entire 2009 season on the DL and then showed little in the Boston farm system the next two years. In 2011, he went 0-7 with a 5.40 ERA at three levels of the minors. The Orioles signed him last winter as a minor league free agent, and now he’s dominating the Yankees in the postseason. It’s a funny game, that’s for sure.
One team has punched its ticket to the Fall Classic. Two teams are looking to join them, with the Dodgers carrying the distinct advantage. Los Angeles needs only a split in the final two games of the NLCS while Milwaukee needing to win both games at home. Doable? Absolutely. But to do it, the Brewers are going to have to wake up their sleepy bats.
NLCS Game 6
Dodgers vs. Brewers
Ballpark: Miller Park
Time: 8:39 PM Eastern
Pitchers: Hyun-Jin Ryu vs Wade Miley
The Dodgers will give the ball to left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, who tossed seven shutout innings in Game 1 of the NLDS but allowed two runs and tossed 72 pitches, failing to get out of the fifth inning, in Game 2 against Milwaukee. Even if he again turns in a short outing Dave Roberts should feel pretty confident, however, as the Dodgers’ bullpen — considered a question mark coming into this series — has allowed only three runs in in 21 and two-thirds innings of work.
For Milwaukee it’s once again Wade Miley, who was the Game 5 “starter,” but who pitched to only one batter. I suppose it’s possible that Craig Counsell will burn him like that again, but it seems more likely that Miley will actually pitch in this game rather than be used as a decoy.
As I noted the other day, though, the Brewers’ pitching gamesmanship has not really been a factor in this series. The real problem for them has been their offense. They’ve scored only 16 runs in five games while batting .219. That’s actually identical to the Dodgers’ run total and average overall, but L.A. has been better at distributing that meager offense. Milwaukee has been cold at the worst times, too, going 5-for-35 with runners in scoring position in the series, including one for their last 11. If that doesn’t change, their season ends tonight.