BALTIMORE -- Orioles closer Mike Gonzalez made the half-hour drive home Friday night, with his second blown save still fresh in his mind. He went over the sequence of events that transpired in Baltimore's 7-6 loss to Toronto, and thought about the ninth-inning implosion that involved two runs over two-thirds of an inning.
"That's just not me," Gonzalez said. "I'm rushing the process when I go out there."
Former Braves teammate and current Rays closer Rafael Soriano told Gonzalez following Tuesday's blown save to slow it down, a tempo that hasn't work either.
"I need to go out there and be me," said Gonzalez, who has no excuses but admits that the pressures of being in the American League East and living up to his contract -- a two-year $12-million dollar deal -- has caused him to try to do too much when he takes the hill.
Gonzalez's skittish performance so far -- two blown saves and a 18.00 ERA in three outings -- has also caused him to pick up some mechanical flaws in his delivery. Pitching coach Rick Kranitz and manager Dave Trembley compared video of Gonzalez last year to what they're seeing now, and noticed a few differences pertaining to his arm angle and how he falls off the mound.
"I'm not feeling it when I'm throwing -- I just want to go in there and shoot it, you know?" Gonzalez. "Obviously, I didn't understand it, until I saw it myself [on tape.]"
Kranitz talked to Gonzalez on Saturday afternoon, and the pair will continue to work on cleaning up the lefty's unique delivery in their next few sessions. Gonzalez won't pitch in Saturday's game, and Trembley declined to say when he would next take the hill. It could be in a non-save situation.
"These guys that are closers -- the focus and attention is on them and rightfully so ... but I would caution everyone to start writing the epitaph of Gonzalez so soon," Trembley said, referring to the loud boos Gonzalez received in front of Saturday's sold-out crowd. "The guy has pitched and been good at it, and has wanted the ball."
"He knows he hasn't lived up to what everybody thought, but he's got a long time to catch up and make up for it. I certainly hope people will be patient and give him another chance."
Gonzalez made a career-high 80 appearances for Atlanta last year, and allowed just four earned runs in 32 1/3 innings after the All-Star break. While he was used in a myriad of situations for the Braves, Gonzalez was brought to Baltimore solely to close games -- something he hasn't done exclusively since 2006. He collected 24 saves that year with the Pirates, and last season saved 10 games in 17 opportunities for the Braves.