'Rock solid' Marco prevails in duel vs. Ohtani

Southpaw wins ninth consecutive decision for WC-chasing Mariners

September 27th, 2021

ANAHEIM -- Looking for a strong outing on the mound to keep up in the AL Wild Card race, the Mariners received just that from left-hander on Sunday.

Gonzales held the Halos to one run, three hits and three walks through seven innings to earn the win in the Mariners' 5-1 victory at Angel Stadium. He continued a strong second half, as he has posted a 2.68 ERA across 80 2/3 innings since the All-Star break.

The win, which capped off an 8-2 road trip for Seattle, was also aided by a game-tying solo homer from rookie Jarred Kelenic in the seventh inning and a three-run double from Jake Fraley in the eighth.

“It was classic Marco,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It's precision, it's execution, knowing what he's got that particular day, and knowing he has very little room for error with how he pitches and uses pitches. He was awesome. He made just the one mistake to [Kurt Suzuki], but other than that, the back and forth, locating the fastball, getting the change up in play. It's pretty fun to watch.”

Following the victory, the Mariners are two games back in the Wild Card standings, behind the Yankees and Red Sox. Seattle also trails Toronto by one game for third place in the race.

Gonzales’ outing was enough to keep Seattle even with the Halos, who received seven innings of one-run ball from two-way star Shohei Ohtani. In the pitchers' duel, Gonzales’ only blemish came in the second inning, when he allowed a solo homer to Suzuki. He responded by retiring the next nine batters before issuing a one-out walk to Juan Lagares in the fifth inning.

“I felt like we really executed the plan well,” Gonzales said. “We know these guys through and through, but that can be tough, because they know me so well. But credit to [catcher Tom Murphy]. Credit to the defense [that] made some nice plays. We really only made one mistake to Suzuki. Other than that, [I felt] really confident with every pitch selection, everything we made. Sequencing was on point and we really just executed with three strikes. We got ahead a lot.”

Gonzales earned his ninth consecutive winning decision -- a streak that began on July 20 and is tied for the longest for a Mariner since Félix Hernández from June 23-Aug. 27, 2012. The lefty hasn't been on the hook for a losing decision in 14 straight outings, and his consistency has been a key factor in keeping the Mariners’ postseason hopes intact heading into the final week of the season.

“He's been rock solid,” Fraley said. “What Marco did today is exactly what he's done all year. I mean, he's just an unbelievable pitcher. He gives us a chance to win every time and that's literally all you can ask for from starting pitchers every time we go out there. That's exactly what he does every time he gets the ball.”

Sunday’s outcome gave the Mariners their 44th road win of the season -- their sixth most in franchise history, tying the 2018 and 2000 Mariners.

On the back of Gonzales’ strong outing, Seattle returns home for a final homestand with three games against the A’s and three against the Angels. Facing the prospect of starting a crucial game in what will likely be his final outing of the regular season, Gonzales said he’s “excited.”

“One regular-season start left and to come home and be in front of our fans again, I hope they're ready to see something special,” Gonzales said. “[This one is] for the people who have cheered us on, but also the people who said that we were going to be out of it along the way. I mean, we hear you. We hear the good and the bad, and we're ready to come home and just have fun. And if you're not having fun in this time of the year, in this situation, then you got something wrong with you because this is what we've been waiting for.”