Chi Chi trades playoffs for pennant race

Chi Chi trades playoffs for pennant race

ARLINGTON -- Chi Chi Gonzalez has bounced from the playoffs to a pennant race this week. He pitched in a postseason game for Triple-A Round Rock on Wednesday and now is preparing to start for the Rangers on Sunday against Oakland.

"I was fortunate enough to continue in the playoffs and play in September over there and now I'm playing here, so hopefully I get to the October thing," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez started for the Express in Game 1 of their Pacific Coast League semifinals against the Oklahoma City Dodgers but threw only two innings -- retiring all six batters he faced -- as the Rangers had other plans for him.

Gonzalez thought that perhaps he had hit some kind of innings limit for the year when he was told his outing would be short, but the Rangers want him to make a spot start in order to push Cole Hamels back a day and allow Hamels to pitch on Monday against the American League West-leading Astros.

In his first four starts for the Rangers from late May to mid-June, Gonzalez was sensational, going 3-1 with an 0.90 ERA while allowing 18 hits in 30 innings. But in the next five starts, including his final outing, on Aug. 18, he had an 8.28 ERA and allowed 27 hits in 25 innings.

Rangers manager Jeff Banister said that Gonzalez was chosen to start on Sunday based on the combination of his initial success and recent positive reports out of Round Rock.

"We believed in him," Banister said. "We brought him up to the big leagues to pitch for us, and he threw some pretty good games for us."

Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.