In his words, Monday's outing was a battle against both the Orioles lineup and "blazing fireballs," as weather conditions were hot and muggy, book-ending a 52-minute rain delay.
On the mound, however, Gonzalez was arguably just as hot as the surrounding temperatures. The rookie tossed six-plus shutouts innings, his second straight scoreless outing, leading the Athletics to a 9-1 win over the Orioles. For Gonzalez, his fourth victory of the season is just another step forward in trying to become a mainstay in the Major Leagues.
"Every game I've pitched now has been a learning process," Gonzalez said. "Trying to attack the zone, trying to get out of the first inning ... staying within the strike zone and trying to get the hitters to swing. [The Orioles are] a very aggressive team, similar to the Texas Rangers. Some of these guys are aggressive, ready to swing at the first pitch, but I kept battling."
Monday's win was Gonzalez's fourth consecutive impressive start, which dropped his ERA to 5.57, the lowest since his first start of the season May 3. Gonzalez has now given up three runs or fewer and has registered at least five strikeouts in each of those starts.
Fortunately for the right-hander, Oakland's offense mirrored the hot start, tagging Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie for five runs on 11 hits in only 4 2/3 innings. Second baseman Mark Ellis set a career mark, going 5-for-5 with four RBIs, raising his average to .270.
"We had some good at-bats," Ellis said. "We had some good opportunities, especially with guys in scoring position. We were able to take advantage of the situations and had good at-bats overall."
The five runs through five innings was more than enough for Gonzalez. The left-hander was able to keep his pitches down in the zone and get the Orioles to swing early in the count, things he said he had been working on recently.
The rookie did get into some trouble in the seventh inning, allowing the Orioles to occupy second and third with no outs. But Monday was Gonzalez's night, and he finally got some help from the weather.
As Orioles shortstop Cesar Izturis began his at-bat, the skies opened up, sending the game into a nearly one-hour delay, and giving manager Bob Geren the chance to make a decision on who to send out from his bullpen when the game resumed.
Craig Breslow was the skipper's choice, and after having runners in scoring position with no outs, the Orioles were unable to capitalize as Breslow kept the lead right where it was.
"I was saying, 'I don't know who was more impressive,'" Geren said. "The job he did or the job Breslow did. You figure second, third, no outs; just look at it like it's 5-2. We have a three-run lead, we need nine outs, let's see what Breslow can give me here. Then you turn around and he's gotten six outs and he hasn't given up a run. That's a phenomenal outing right there."
After the game, Gonzalez echoed his manager's sentiments. When asked if the rain came at just the right time, Gonzalez simply smiled. To him, it was another appearance that saved him.
"No, Breslow came out at the perfect time, that's more like it," Gonzalez said. "Great performance for Breslow. You can always count on your bullpen. They have been phenomenal behind me, and helping me out as much as they can."
Brian Eller is an associate reporter to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.