CHICAGO -- It was a muggy night in Kansas City when Miguel Gonzalez last took the ball for the White Sox on Aug. 11, with the South Siders a good distance removed from both the top of the American League Central and the AL Wild Card race.
So the locale and the opponent stood as the only parts of that scenario changing for Gonzalez's return during a 2-0 victory over the Tigers on Tuesday night at U.S. Cellular Field. But just because the White Sox sit 13 1/2 games out in the division and 10 back in the Wild Card with 24 games remaining doesn't mean they won't take the field with great pride and conviction.
"We're here to compete," said Gonzalez, who won for the first time since July 6. "We're not going to give in until the last day of the season. That's what we're all about."
"We play this game to win, and just when things aren't going our way doesn't mean we are going to give up and roll over," said White Sox closer David Robertson, who picked up his 34th save. "We are going to continue to play hard and try to win ballgames."
Gonzalez's inactivity was caused by a right groin strain suffered during his last outing against the Royals. He didn't exactly draw the easiest of opponents for a healthy comeback, with the Tigers featuring a strong lineup and sitting tied with the Orioles for the AL's second Wild Card entering Tuesday.
That challenge didn't prove to be too great for Gonzalez, who hurled 6 1/3 scoreless innings while striking out four and not issuing a walk. It was the sixth time this season Gonzalez has gone walk-free, and he has a 2.83 ERA with eight quality starts over his past nine trips to the mound.
"It has been a while since I was able to go out there," Gonzalez said. "I was happy with the performance. [Catcher Omar] Narvaez did a great job calling the game. It was great all around. I was pretty anxious, pretty happy about coming back. It was fun to be around the guys again, be able to perform, help them out, give them a chance."
"Gonzo was great," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "I don't know if you could expect much more out of him. You didn't really know what to expect, but this was pretty indicative of how he pitches. He pitches to contact, moves it around the plate. I thought his poise and everything was outstanding."
Dan Jennings, Nate Jones and Robertson finished things off for Gonzalez, with enough White Sox offense for the victory. It was a return almost one month in the making, but worth the wait as a start to Gonzalez's final month of work.
"Keep doing what I'm doing and obviously stay healthy," said Gonzalez of his goals. "That's the most important thing for me and my teammates. I'm here to help them out as much as I can."