SEATTLE -- Marco Gonzales wanted to finish the season in strong fashion, so consider it mission accomplished for the young Mariners lefty.The Mariners dropped a 2-0 decision to the Rangers in Thursday's series opener at Safeco Field, but Gonzales allowed just two singles -- including a little infield blooper that
SEATTLE -- Marco Gonzales wanted to finish the season in strong fashion, so consider it mission accomplished for the young Mariners lefty.
The Mariners dropped a 2-0 decision to the Rangers in Thursday's series opener at Safeco Field, but Gonzales allowed just two singles -- including a little infield blooper that first baseman Daniel Vogelbach couldn't corral -- in five scoreless innings as he finished his season at 13-9 with a 4.00 ERA in 29 starts.
"I really wanted a win, that's first and foremost," Gonzales said. "But just being able to put together a couple quality starts and finish strong, stick to the process, stick to the routine that I've built up and kind of developed this year, yeah I'm really, really pleased. I'm proud of the work we've put in this season."
After coming into the season as the club's No. 5 starter with considerable questions overhead, Gonzales established himself as one of the club's top starters and led the team with his 13 wins.
"I'm happy that we've done well this year and happy to have done it with a great group of guys," he said. "Obviously we wanted a different result this year, so I'm anxious to see what we can do next year and what we can be next year."
The 26-year-old out of Gonzaga struck out six with one walk in a command performance that capped a sterling September, as he closed the year by going 1-0 with a 1.71 ERA in his last four starts.
Take away a horrendous August, when he went 0-4 with a 10.35 ERA in four starts before going on the disabled list with a strained neck, and Gonzales was 13-5 with a 3.13 ERA in his other 25 outings.
"I'm really happy for him to come back, and the last four starts he had at the end of the season were exactly what he needed," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "He had the little hiccup in August and was kind of running on fumes and had to come back from the neck issue. To finish off like he did says a lot about him. That's who he is. He's a guy who has come into his own this year and we're going to continue to rely on him heavily going forward."
The Rangers ended a scoreless duel in the seventh when Ryan Rua doubled and scored on an RBI single by Ronald Guzman off lefty reliever Zach Duke. Shawn Armstrong then forced in a second run when he hit Isiah Kiner-Falefa in the top of the helmet with a 95-mph fastball with the bases loaded.
The Mariners managed just three hits against 22-year-old rookie right-hander Ariel Jurado and a trio of relievers and only advanced one runner past first base, that coming on a two-base error from third baseman Jurickson Profar on a Mitch Haniger grounder in the sixth.
"The offense was not there tonight," Servais said. "We did not do much at all. Jurado, we'd seen him earlier and he certainly had a good sinking fastball. We hit a lot of balls on the ground. We really just didn't get into a lot of at-bats, didn't square 'em up. We didn't do anything all night."
The Mariners fell to 86-73 overall and 7-9 against the last-place Rangers, who are the only American League West foe with a winning record against Seattle this season.
Gonzales allowed just three hits in 11 scoreless frames against the Rangers in his final two outings and finished the year with 166 2/3 innings pitched, by far the most of his Major League career and a healthy jump from last year's 126 1/3 innings in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.
"A lot of people questioned, 'Why would you even bring him back?'" Servais said. "It's to finish the year strong, get the innings number up there and he's done it. He's gotten through an entire Major League season. That will only make him better in the future."
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Mariners utility man Kristopher Negron, acquired from the D-backs on Aug. 30, continues to shine in his limited opportunities. The versatile 32-year-old started in left field for just the second time and made an outstanding catch of a low rocket by Ronald Guzman leading off the fifth to help Gonzales out. The play was rated a 3-star catch with a 62-percent catch probability by Statcast™ as he had to cover 27 feet in just 2.8 seconds on the 103-mph line drive.
"He's a really good athlete," Servais said. "It's been fun to move him around in the field. He'll probably be out there again tomorrow in a different position. We're trying to find out more about him. Very good athlete, he can finish plays. We've certainly seen him do it a number of times in the outfield and we want to continue to take a look at him here in the last three to four games."
HE SAID IT
"My last one's done. I think I'm gonna go enjoy a bottle of wine with my wife and kind of go from there. I haven't thought about it so much." -- Gonzales, on his offseason plans
Wade LeBlanc (8-5, 3.55 ERA) makes his last start of the season in Friday's 7:10 p.m. PT game at Safeco Field against Rangers lefty Martin Perez (2-6, 6.13). LeBlanc is finishing strong as he's posted a 1.83 ERA over his last six outings. The 33-year-old is 1-1 with a 2.76 ERA in three starts vs. the Rangers this year.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.