It didn't take long for last year's Braves closer and setup-man (deposed closer) to go head to head in their new homes in the American League. Rafael Soriano, now with the Tampa Bay Rays, and Mike Gonzalez, who signed with the Baltimore Orioles, were both inserted into last night's game in the ninth inning.
With Baltimore leading 3-to-2, Soriano took the mound in the ninth relieving Lance Cormier (one of five former Braves pitchers in this game!). He promptly gave up a double, then a bunt single, then some good defense, a walk, and you get the picture, it was one of those typical Soriano's-not-sharp-in-non-save-situations outings. He didn't give up a run, which was a bit of a miracle after a leadoff double.
Mike Gonzalez then came of to close out the game for Baltimore. He struck out Pat-the-bat to begin the inning, then allowed a single and a double to put the winning run in scoring position. They intentionally walked the bases loaded and Carl Crawford doubled home the winning run. Blown save Mike Gonzalez.
While it is only one game, I still like our eighth and ninth inning combo this year of Takashi Saito and Billy Wagner much better than last year's combo of Gonzalez and Soriano. Gonzalez had become borderline Mitch-Williams-wild on the mound, and Soriano had no consistency throughout the season.