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‘A Lot of Dogs,’ Marco Gonzales Keeps Pirates’ Quality Starts Streak Going



Pittsburgh Pirates, Marco Gonzales

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — For the first time since joining the Pittsburgh Pirates, Marco Gonzales took the mound at PNC Park and carefully navigated a tough Baltimore Orioles’ lineup.

In his second start of the season, Gonzales held the Orioles to a pair of runs in six innings pitched as the Pirates walked-off the Orioles for the second-consecutive game.

“When we got ahead, we did really well,” Gonzales said on his outing. “I think there was a couple times where I wasn’t as ahead as I’d like to be, but overall, I felt like we held them to weak contact. Shut down the momentum they had in that one inning. Just kind of shut them down for what they had.”

The Orioles struck for a pair of runs on several hard-hit balls in the fourth inning against Gonzales. The veteran left-hander shut down the Orioles for the first three innings before the Orioles got to him. Gonzales prevailed, though, retiring six of the last seven batters he faced to get through six frames.

Gonzales’ start on Sunday was more of the same from the Pirates’ rotation in their series win over the Orioles.

In the home opener on Friday, rookie Jared Jones allowed two runs in six innings pitched against the Orioles and struck out seven. On Saturday, Bailey Falter delivered his best start with the Pirates with six-shutout innings of one hit ball.

“Marco was good. Bailey was good yesterday,” manager Derek Shelton said. “Both guys did a really good job of keeping a really good lineup off the barrel. I think Mountcastle was the one that hurt Marco a little bit today but, overall, he did a really good job with the execution of the fastball.”

The trio of Pirates’ starters held the Orioles’ offense to four runs in 18 innings pitched (2.00 ERA). Perhaps even more impressive, the three starters walked a combined one batter.

With what the Pirates’ rotation did in their series victory over the reigning American League East champions and Martín Pérez’s performance in the final game of the Washington Nationals’ series, it’s now four quality starts in a row. Pérez worked into the seventh inning and allowed a pair of runs in his start.

Gonzales wanted to go out there and deliver like three of his rotation mates did leading up to his start.

“I think in any good rotation, there’s healthy competition,” said Gonzales. “You’re looking at the other guys and watching what they do and saying, ‘I’m going to either match it or do better.’ They set the bar. Watching a guy like Martín, who has done it for a number of years, a total pro, and Mitch and Bailey and Jonesy, top to bottom, a lot of competitive guys who are just going out there and taking the ball. A lot of dogs, for sure.”

During their four-game streak of quality starts, the Pirates have gone 3-1 to improve their overall record to 8-2 to begin the season. They’ve won each of their first three series to start the year, including a four-game sweep over the Miami Marlins at the onset of the season.

It’ll be up to Mitch Keller, who is looking for his first quality start of the year, to keep it going. He’ll take the ball for the Pirates against the Detroit Tigers at PNC Park on Monday night.

If the Pirates want to prove their hot start is for real and not a fluke like last season, they’ll need to continue to get quality starting pitching, especially from their 2023 All-Star in Keller.

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