On Saturday night team Mexico stepped on the diamond with their backs against the wall. After losing to Italy in a thriller on Thursday, one more loss would lead to elimination from the WBC; ending team Mexico’s championship aspirations. Chicago White Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez is the man they turned too to keep their hopes alive.
Gonzalez, 32, is one of five White Sox pitchers to be participating in the WBC. Nate Jones and David Robertson (USA), Jose Quintana (Colombia), and Alex Katz (Israel) are the other White Sox recipients in competition. Gonzalez signed a minor league contract with the White Sox in April of last year.
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He was to be used as insurance in case longtime Sox starter John Danks had another underwhelming year. Sure enough, Danks’s horrible April led to him being released and Gonzalez taking his spot in the rotation. Gonzalez was a bright spot for a disappointing White Sox team. Gonzalez finished with a 5-8 record and a 3.73 ERA.
Gonzalez’s WBC debut began with a bang. Cleveland Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor immediately took charge with this one swing:
That was just the beginning of a disappointing night for Gonzalez. Understandably so, Puerto Rico has a very solid lineup with little to no holes throughout. Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, and Javier Baez just to name a few. It was certainly a daring task that the 32-year-old right hander had to battle through all night long.
The aforementioned Carlos Beltran lined a single to right center field in the third inning of Gonzalez to give Puerto Rico a 3-1 lead. Gonzalez was either aggressive or passive towards certain hitters all night; walking three and striking out three. His final line consisted of 4 innings pitched along with 4 hits and 3 earned runs.
Gonzalez was settled with the loss. Although, a late comeback by Mexico, made things interesting as it was 5-4 at one point. The comeback was short lived as Puerto Rico added four runs in the 9th to secure the victory and elimination of Mexico from the WBC. x
It was only fitting that Gonzalez started for his home country in his hometown Saturday night. Gonzalez was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.Before his WBC start, Gonzalez had shutdown the Colorado Rockies in a spring training game two weeks prior. He pitched in front of 12 family members. Gonzalez knew that he would be pitching in front of a lot more family and friends Saturday night.
Just like every other White Sox pitcher in the WBC, a good performance enhances potential trade stock for that player. With the Sox committed to a rebuild, guys like Gonzalez are expendable for younger prospect pieces. Gonzalez did not provide a start the Sox would have liked to see, but Gonzalez’s durability and reliability should have general managers asking about him leading up to this year’s trade deadline.
Team Mexico is now eliminated from the World Baseball Classic. Gonzalez can now take his humbling experience back to the Sox clubhouse and focus on winning games for the south side in 2017.