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Vet Gonzales tosses CG for young Mariners

'It’s just one of those things where I just wanted to get home'
@gregjohnsmlb
August 31, 2020

While the Mariners went about adding promising young talent to their franchise via trades this weekend, their longest-tenured pitcher proceeded to show why experience comes in pretty handy as Marco Gonzales shut down the Angels in a 2-1 win in Monday afternoon’s series finale at Angel Stadium. Gonzales, one of

While the Mariners went about adding promising young talent to their franchise via trades this weekend, their longest-tenured pitcher proceeded to show why experience comes in pretty handy as Marco Gonzales shut down the Angels in a 2-1 win in Monday afternoon’s series finale at Angel Stadium.

Gonzales, one of the few remaining holdovers on the rebuilding roster, allowed just one run on four hits and one walk in the second complete game of his career. Gonzales struck out eight, including Mike Trout three times.

Box score

For Gonzales and all the Mariners, it was a perfect ending to a roller-coaster road trip that included their decision to not play a game in San Diego as a statement in support of racial equality and then a series of deals that saw five teammates traded away, including Gonzales’ close friend and workout partner Austin Nola.

“Just for a lot of reasons, this was a tough road trip,” Gonzales said. “I wasn’t expecting to be as emotional as I was today, but it’s just one of those things where it just seems to all pile up at once. For us to go out and close up the road trip the way we did, it really meant a lot. I just can’t speak enough about the character of this group. We’ve hung together through a lot of tough times.”

Gonzales fully understands the Mariners’ rebuilding process, but he acknowledged the trade of Nola to the Padres on Sunday night was like “losing one of my brothers and someone who has always had my back, and the ultimate teammate.”

On top of dealing with COVID-19 protocols, social issues and being away from home for the seven-game journey, it all added up to a very determined Gonzales taking the mound against the Angels. Which is why when he headed off the mound after the eighth inning, he let manager Scott Servais know he intended to finish what he’d started.

“When I walked off the field in the eighth, I looked at skip and said, ‘This is my game,”” Gonzales said. “I knew it from the first inning, I knew it from the first pitch. It’s just one of those things where I just wanted to get home. I want to be home, I want to be back in Seattle and there’s a lot of emotions.”

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Having traded Taijuan Walker, the Mariners' six-man rotation now has four pitchers age 24 or under, with Gonzales and Yusei Kikuchi the lone veterans. And Gonzales, the only Mariner besides third baseman Kyle Seager who has been with Seattle since 2017, plays a valuable role in leading that youthful group.

“Certainly Marco brings a ton of leadership, on the field and in the clubhouse,” Servais said. “But the biggest thing he does is lead by example. When he goes out and just takes control of the game like that, it says more than anything you can say. Your actions speak louder than your words, and he is some kind of competitor.”

The 28-year-old southpaw improved to 4-2 with a 3.09 ERA, with the lone damage coming on a Justin Upton leadoff homer in the second. Gonzales retired 21 batters in a row after Upton’s home run until pinch-hitter Shohei Ohtani’s single leading off the ninth.

Andrelton Simmons followed with a hit before Trout lined into a double play. Gonzales then walked Anthony Rendon to put runners on first and second again, but Albert Pujols popped out to finish off the 102-pitch gem.

The Trout double play proved to be the key in allowing Gonzales to finish off his gem and cap a 4-3 road trip for the youthful Mariners, who have won eight of their last 12 games to improve to 15-22 heading into September.

“I don’t think I’ve ever snapped my neck around so fast to see if Seager was standing there to catch that,” Gonzales said with a smile.

Jake Fraley tripled and scored on Joseph Odom's single in the third to tie the game at 1. José Marmolejos gave Seattle the lead with a solo homer in the sixth. Fraley, Odom and Marmolejos are all rookies.

Odom is filling in at catcher with Nola gone, and the hit was just his second in 21 at-bats this year. Marmolejos was activated off the taxi squad as the 29th man when the Mariners played a doubleheader after their postponed game in San Diego, but he hit so well he was kept on the roster and wound up hitting .421 (8-for-19) with three home runs in six games.

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