SEATTLE -- Once again, the Mariners found a way to win without the top three hitters in their batting order, as Marco Gonzales dealt surging Seattle to a 2-1 victory over the Rangers at Safeco Field on Monday.The Mariners have won nine of their last 10 games and have the
SEATTLE -- Once again, the Mariners found a way to win without the top three hitters in their batting order, as Marco Gonzales dealt surging Seattle to a 2-1 victory over the Rangers at Safeco Field on Monday.
The Mariners have won nine of their last 10 games and have the best record in the American League, at 11-3, since losing Robinson Cano to injury and suspension. At 33-20, they're 13 games above .500 for the first time since 2014 and remain one game back of the Astros in the AL West.
"Winning is awesome," said third baseman Kyle Seager, who drove in the winning run. "It's been great and our pitching, you can't say enough about them. Marco does it today. It's really been incredible what these guys are doing."
With leadoff hitter Dee Gordon still sidelined by a fractured toe and No. 2 hitter Jean Segura missing his second straight game with a mild concussion, the Mariners once again found just enough offense to go with the stellar pitching.
Gonzales gave up just four hits, four walks and an unearned run over 6 2/3 innings as he improved to 5-3 with a 3.60 ERA. The 26-year-old southpaw has allowed just two unearned runs and 11 hits over 19 1/3 innings in his last three starts and is 4-1 with a 2.08 ERA over his last seven.
Just a year removed from Tommy John surgery, Gonzales went 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA in 10 outings for Seattle after his midseason acquisition from the Cardinals last season. There were a number of doubters about the Mariners putting him in the rotation last offseason.
But Gonzales has quieted critics by establishing himself as an integral part of a rotation that has posted a 3.08 ERA during Seattle's 22-10 run since April 24.
"There were a lot of questions from a lot of people," said manager Scott Servais. "I'm really happy for him. This is what our scouts saw when we made the trade for him. The guys in the front office recognized that if we get this guy back completely healthy and in a good environment, he could be a guy that could carry innings."
Gonzalez acknowledges he's a different pitcher this year, his first full season in the Majors.
"Night and day," he said. "The second year back from surgery has done wonders. My body is feeling good and my arm is feeling good and that's No. 1. I think off of that, knowing I need to get ahead of guys and get in good counts and keep that aggressive approach, that's something I've been working on and am finally putting together."
Rangers right-hander Doug Fister limited the Mariners to one hit over the first five frames, but Seattle bunched four singles into the sixth, including RBI hits by Nelson Cruz and Seager to take a 2-1 lead.
New acquisition Alex Colome pitched a scoreless eighth and Edwin Diaz finished things off in the ninth for his MLB-leading 19th save. Seattle's bullpen has allowed just one earned run in 27 1/3 innings over the last 10 games.
Seven of the Mariners' nine wins during their recent hot streak have come by one run, and they haven't scored more than four runs in their last eight games. Their 16 one-run victories are the most in the Majors.
"I won't lie," Seager said. "It'd be really nice if we go out tomorrow and win by like 10. That would be awesome. I'm sure the bullpen wouldn't mind and Skip wouldn't mind. It'd be good for everybody. But it's a really good vibe in here right now. The pitching has been phenomenal. Offensively, we're not doing a ton, but they're taking care of us and we're doing just enough. It's been really good."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
A bobbled double-play grounder by Rangers second baseman Rougned Odor opened the door for the Mariners' go-ahead two run rally in the sixth. New Mariners left fielder Denard Span instead reached base on a fielder's choice on what would have been an inning-ended twin killing for Fister. To that point, Fister had allowed just two hits and was leading 1-0. But Mitch Haniger, Cruz and Seager all followed with base hits -- the latter two driving in runs -- as Seattle took the lead.
Cruz has dealt with a number of health issues while hitting just .220 with 22 RBIs to date, but he's continued to torment his former Rangers team. The big DH is batting .421 (8-for-19) against Texas, but just .190 against the rest of the league.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Gonzales' gave up his first hit on a two-out single in the second that really wasn't a single at all. Ryan Rua looped a line drive into shallow right that Haniger made a nice sliding catch on. Second-base umpire Chris Segal signaled "no catch" on the play, but Rua was thrown out trying to advance to second base as Haniger tossed the ball in to second baseman James Beckham, who threw to shortstop Andrew Romine to make the tag.
The call clearly would have been ruled a catch, but the Mariners didn't ask for a review since they got the out anyway. And since the play was ruled a hit on the field, the official scorer had no choice but to call it a single and 9-4-6 putout at second.
HE SAID IT
"A lot of people say you can't sustain that. It'll catch up with you. I don't know. I'm not worried about it. I'm worried about tomorrow's game and that's how our ballclub is looking at it. We find a way to win. It's been come come-from-behind wins, some late-inning hits, some home runs. When we've got a one-run lead or even if we're tied or down by a run, we get that feel that good things are going to happen. That's what good teams do -- they find a way to win. That's what we're doing." -- Servais, on his team being 13 games over .500 with just a plus-13 run differential
Felix Hernandez (5-4, 5.58 ERA) looks to iron out his first-inning issues when the Mariners' veteran faces Rangers right-hander Austin Bibens-Dirkx (0-1, 5.68) in Tuesday's 7:10 p.m. PT game at Safeco Field. Hernandez has allowed 15 runs in his last 11 first innings, including four in a 4-3 loss to the A's on Thursday. The 32-year-old is 19-24 with a 4.00 ERA in 55 career starts against Texas, including a no-decision on April 20 when he gave up four hits and two runs in 5 2/3 innings in Arlington.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.