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'Best fifth starter' a lefthanded compliment?

Oakland starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez throws against the

Oakland starting pitcher Gio Gonzalez throws against the Seattle Mariners at Safeco Field. (Apr. 14, 2010) Photo Credit: Getty Images

The Athletics certainly do not pack a lot of mystique into their park. Talk about not having any there there. But the team always does have a certain resolve, witnessed this year by its three walk-off wins. And this season, it also has some decent pitching. Oakland starters are 6-1, and the staff ERA is 2.90.

So that’s what Javier Vazquez will have to match as he tries for his first good game in his second time around as a Yankee tonight. He faces lefthander Gio Gonzalez, who is 1-0 despite some distractions. Gonzalez wore his girlfriend’s initials on his cap in his last start as a sign of support because she was in a southern California hospital after a car accident. She was scheduled for surgery yesterday to treat blurred vision. One of Gonzalez’ friends died in a car accident in Florida three weeks ago.

But the guy pitched fairly well in a loss last week, after having impressed anybody who watched his first start. Scouts reportedly said he could be the best fifth starter in the American League. Maybe that's a proverbial lefthanded compliment because who wants to be a fifth starter? Torii Hunter of the Angels, who lost to Gonzalez, went further. He said he has “the best lefthanded curveball in the game.”

Last July, he rebounded from a horrible 11-run, 2 2/3 inning outing against the Twins to beat the Yankees at the Stadium, allowing only one run on two hits in 6 2/3 innings.

New York Sports