Gonzalez makes memory with 3-hit shutout

Gonzalez makes memory with 3-hit shutout

KANSAS CITY -- Rangers pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez had thrown 102 pitches through eight innings. He also had a three-hit shutout going after setting down the order in the eighth on just nine pitches.

"I just sat down and got a drink of water," Gonzalez said. "[Pitching coach] Mike Maddux came over and asked me how I felt. I told him I felt strong, I felt good. He said, 'Go get them.'"

Gonzalez had been doing that all night and he finished it off by setting down the side in order in the ninth. In his second Major League start, Gonzalez threw a three-hit shutout in the Rangers' 4-0 victory over the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

"It's incredible," Gonzalez said. "From first pitch to the last pitch, it was a lot of fun. It has been a good time."

Gonzalez still has not allowed a run in the Major Leagues. He threw 5 2/3 scoreless innings in his Major League debut against the Red Sox on Saturday, but this night was even better. He needed only 116 pitches to get through nine after throwing 102 against the Red Sox. He had four innings where he threw 10 pitches or less.

"He was the poster boy for what we have been talking about with our pitchers," manager Jeff Banister said. "Three pitches or less, early contact and ground-ball outs."

Gonzalez walked two, struck out two and got 11 ground-ball outs.

"I couldn't really pick him up," Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer said. "He was sneaky for me, threw a lot of cutters, had some balls with some sink on it. Just mixing it up really well and pitched a great game. We're definitely in a rut, but you can't take anything away from his performance. He threw a complete-game shutout. Didn't really walk many people, was firing strikes in there, quick innings. He threw a great game."

This was only the 17th shutout by a Rangers rookie pitcher in club history and the first since Derek Holland in 2009.

"In complete control," Banister said. "Great movement on all his pitches. A lot more under control of his emotions. He seemd to be at peace on the mound. Just a fine job by him and the defense behind him as well."

This time there wasn't any no-hitter suspense. Gonzalez took a no-hitter into the sixth inning in his last start, but this time he gave up a hit to the second batter. Mike Moustakas, beating the left-handed shift, lined a single to left. He tried for a double and was initially safe, but a replay review revealed he was thrown out on a strong throw from left-fielder Delino DeShields.

"A huge play," Gonzalez said. "That was the difference in the inning ... the difference in the game."

The Royals didn't get two batters on in an inning until the seventh when Hosmer reached on an infield single and Kendrys Morales walked. After a visit by Maddux, Gonzalez threw one more pitch and Alex Gordon hit a grounder at second baseman Hanser Alberto for an inning-ending double play.

Gonzalez then set down the side in order in the eighth, setting up his chances for his first shutout. The Rangers had Shawn Tolleson warming up just in case Gonzalez faltered. He didn't.

"It was not an easy decision," Banister said. "At 102 pitches, this is a young man fresh in the big leagues. We felt like there was not a lot of stress in any of the innings tonight. We felt like he was still in control, the velocity was still there. We had Tolleson ready. We were going to bring him in if he had any trouble."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.