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Gonzales' May struggles continue vs. Rangers

@gregjohnsmlb
May 29, 2019

SEATTLE -- May hasn’t been kind to Marco Gonzales, as the Mariners southpaw saw his month-long winless streak continue in an 11-4 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday at T-Mobile Park. After being installed as Seattle’s No. 1 starter in the spring, the 27-year-old went 5-0 with a 2.80 ERA

SEATTLE -- May hasn’t been kind to Marco Gonzales, as the Mariners southpaw saw his month-long winless streak continue in an 11-4 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday at T-Mobile Park.

After being installed as Seattle’s No. 1 starter in the spring, the 27-year-old went 5-0 with a 2.80 ERA in March and April, with the Mariners winning six of his seven starts. But the wheels have wobbled in May, as Gonzales went 0-5 with a 5.86 ERA and the Mariners came up empty in his six outings.

Box score

Gonzales’ last win came against the Rangers on April 25, when he spun seven scoreless innings in a 14-2 blowout, but the roles were reversed Tuesday as he allowed eight runs (six earned) on eight hits over four-plus frames.

The Mariners’ free-fall has coincided with Gonzales’ struggles. They were 17-11 and leading the American League West after his last win, but have gone 7-22 since to fall into last in the division.

Gonzales was facing Texas for a second straight outing -- having lost a well-pitched 2-1 decision in Arlington last Wednesday -- but said the Rangers’ familiarity wasn’t a factor.

“We’re going to face a lot of teams a lot of times,” he said. “My next two starts are against Anaheim, same thing. I’m not going to use that as an excuse. That’s what I enjoy about pitching, it’s a constant chess match. I’ve been fortunate enough to have had a couple good games against them early. The dice rolled their way today. I think it’s as simple as that.”

But Rangers manager Chris Woodward noted his team has faced four left-handers in a row now -- with a fifth coming Wednesday in Wade LeBlanc -- and believes that has helped his club.

“That doesn’t hurt when our lefties get to see the lefties over and over,” Woodward said. “I think it just gives us a little bit of a comfort factor. Our guys did a really good job. We followed the game plan we set out against [Gonzales]. We forced him to come into the strike zone, he did and we made him pay. A lot of our hits were left-handed hitters.”

Mariners manager Scott Servais said Gonzales just wasn’t as sharp as he was in Arlington.

“Tonight he just wasn’t as crisp with any of his pitches or locating like he typically does,” Servais said. “It just looks like he’s maybe a tick off mechanically and leaving some balls where he typically doesn’t -- in the middle of the plate.

“Marco is a really good competitor, and it drives him crazy when he doesn’t get deep in the ballgame. He’ll take a look at some video and hopefully tighten it up and get back to what he’s normally capable of doing -- living on the edges and using all his pitches.”

Texas has won six of its last seven meetings with Seattle this season by a combined score of 59-25 and leads the season series, 6-3.

The run of unearned runs continues

The Mariners allowed two unearned runs in the first on a throwing error by catcher Omar Narvaez on a double steal by Shin-Soo Choo and Hunter Pence, with both runners scoring when Narvaez fired past third baseman Kyle Seager into left field.

Seattle has committed 60 errors and allowed 52 unearned runs -- both Major League highs, by a wide margin -- in 57 games. The White Sox have the second-most errors at 44, and the Giants are No. 2 in unearned runs with 32.

But Gonzales ran into his own troubles in the fourth with a two-run blast by Nomar Mazara and then gave up three hits and hit a batter in the fifth before being replaced by Brandon Brennan in what turned into a seven-run inning.

Mallex’s emergence continues

A night after stealing four bases -- including home -- and reaching base three times, Mariners center fielder Mallex Smith continued his resurgence with two outstanding catches in center field as well as a two-run double in a 3-for-5 outing.

Smith made a diving catch in the third on a drive to the right-center gap by Elvis Andrus and ran down a deep shot to the center-field wall by Ronald Guzman to get Gonzales out of the fourth after Texas had upped its lead to 4-0 on Mazara’s homer.

“I feel like myself, a lot more confident in my glove and confident in my ability,” Smith said. “I’m having fun. That’s the biggest thing right now.”

By going 5-for-8 in his past two games, the 26-year-old speedster has hiked his average 28 points to .192 and -- with Dee Gordon on the 10-day injured list -- was inserted back in the leadoff role on Tuesday.

“You can just see his confidence,” Servais said. “He feels better about himself, and he should. He’s put a lot of work in and is starting to get results. We’re starting to see the player we know he is.”

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.