ANAHEIM -- Marco Gonzales came into the season with major question marks and five Major League career wins attached to his name. But the 26-year-old southpaw became Seattle's first 10-game winner this season on Wednesday night with another seven-inning gem as the Mariners topped the Angels, 3-0.Gonzales has been one
ANAHEIM -- Marco Gonzales came into the season with major question marks and five Major League career wins attached to his name. But the 26-year-old southpaw became Seattle's first 10-game winner this season on Wednesday night with another seven-inning gem as the Mariners topped the Angels, 3-0.
Gonzales has been one of the big reasons the Mariners are approaching the All-Star break as a growing Cinderella story in the American League West, as his latest win put Seattle at 58-35, just three games back of the defending World Series-champion Astros, with the fourth-best record in MLB.
Gonzales allowed just two hits with no walks over his 82-pitch outing as he improved to 10-5 with a 3.41 ERA to become the 10th pitcher in Mariners history to reach 10 wins by the All-Star break.
The youngster insisted the win total wasn't on his mind, however, which speaks volumes about his mature approach.
"I didn't even know, honestly," Gonzales said. "That's great though. A lot of credit has to go to the team. They've scored runs at the right time. Tonight they played unbelievable defense. [Jean Segura] made an unbelievable play. [Ben] Gamel made a nice play. [Mitch] Haniger made a play in the gap. Just all around, guys are rallying around each other. Those are certainly not all my 10 wins, those are team wins."
But manager Scott Servais knows how critical Gonzales has been to a team whose starting rotation has far exceeded most people's expectations.
"He's been huge, no questions about it," said Servais. "Coming into Spring Training and him making some adjustments and just being healthy and feeling like he was ready to go from the get-go. And he has not backed off.
"His work between starts is impeccable. He's really disciplined. A lot of times young players come in and get on a roll and say, 'OK, I've got this figured out.' Marco has not done that. He has not backed off the pedal at all and that's why he's going to have a lot left in the tank as we go into the second half."
Gonzales took a hard liner off his left calf from Andrelton Simmons for the Angels' first hit in the fourth and couldn't sit down in the dugout the remainder of the game for fear the leg would stiffen up.
But the former Gonzaga University standout allowed just one runner past first base -- when Michael Trout followed Simmons' hit with a single of his own -- and has held the Angels to seven hits and one run over 13 innings in his last two starts.
"It seems like we face him every time we play the Mariners," said Trout. "He just keeps you off-balance. You can't miss a pitch on him. He's just eating at the corners. Like I said, you just can't miss your pitch."
Catcher David Freitas, filling in for the injured Mike Zunino, gave Seattle a 1-0 lead with his first career home run, a solo shot to center in the third. Nelson Cruz added a two-run single in the fourth. Freitas went 2-for-2 with a walk, but the Mariners totaled just six hits.
Edwin Diaz closed out the ninth by retiring Shohei Ohtani, Andrelton Simmons and Trout for his Major League-leading 36th save, just two behind the MLB record of 38 by the All-Star break set by the Angels' Francisco Rodriguez in 2008. Diaz is on pace for 62 for the season, which would tie Rodriguez's all-time record set in '08.
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
Sometimes the stars -- and the All-Stars -- align. For the Mariners, that moment came in the fourth inning when Jean Segura, fresh off winning the Camping World MLB All-Star Final Vote competition, doubled to lead things off. Mitch Haniger then was hit by a pitch and both runners advanced on a wild pitch, then scored on a two-run single by Cruz to give Seattle a 3-0 lead. That trio -- Segura, Haniger and Cruz -- will represent the Mariners at Tuesday's All-Star Game in Washington, D.C., along with closer Diaz.
"That's why Nelson drives in 100-plus runs a year, because he doesn't try to do too much in those spots," Servais said after Cruz took a 3-1 slider on the outside corner and drove it up the middle.
The list of Mariners pitchers that Gonzales joined with 10 wins by the All-Star break is an impressive group. Felix Hernandez and Randy Johnson did it three times and Freddy Garcia and Aaron Sele twice. The others with one, along with Gonzales, are Dave Fleming, Mark Langston, Gil Meche, Jamie Moyer and Joel Pineiro.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Freitas' first home run in 95 Major League plate appearances carried just far enough -- at 392 feet, per Statcast™ -- to get over the glove of Trout at the center-field wall.
"When I was in Texas, Delino DeShields robbed one," Freitas said. "And I saw Trout having a little bead on it, so I got a little nervous. I've seen a lot of highlights of him robbing home runs, so I wasn't sure if that was going to be another one."
HE SAID IT
"It means a lot. You look at my past career in the Minor Leagues, it was 6-7 years in the Minor Leagues to make my first call-up. I came a long way since 2010. So it's a proud moment for me and especially since I got to have my mom, wife and son all here and they got to share this, too. And my agent was actually here, too, so I hope he enjoyed that, too." -- Freitas, a native of Elk Grove, Calif., on his big night
Mariners lefty James Paxton (8-3, 3.49 ERA) was moved up a day to replace the injured Felix Hernandez and will face the Angels for the first time this season in his final start before the All-Star break in Thursday's 7:07 p.m. PT game at Angel Stadium. Paxton is 4-2 with a 2.07 ERA in 11 career games vs. the Halos, who are expected to bring lefty Tyler Skaggs (6-5, 2.64) off the disabled list to start the series finale.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.