A pair of talented left-handed starting pitchers, who both oddly wear the non-typical pitcher’s jersey No. 7, met on a sun-drenched Tuesday afternoon at T-Mobile Park and a pitchers’ duel that featured rhythm, efficiency and pace ensued, resulting in a quickly-played game of 2 hours, 28 minutes.
It was a showing reminiscent of days past.
In the end, the power plus precision of Julio Urias proved to be just slightly better than the execution and command of Marco Gonzales as the Mariners were held scoreless and almost hitless in a 1-0 defeat against the Dodgers.
“That’s the ultimate pitchers’ duel today, wow,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “Between (what) Marco was able to do against that lineup, and what Urias threw out there today, it doesn’t get any better than that. That’s a big-league pitching duel. Both those guys were on top of their game. They get two hits, we got one, you don’t see that very often in a major-league game.”
Seattle (11-7) ends the five-game homestand with 3-2 record. Both of the losses were 1-0 defeats. The Mariners embark on an eight-game road trip, which starts with an off day in Boston on Wednesday before opening a four-game series with the Red Sox on Thursday evening.
“Overall on the homestand, I thought we played really good baseball” Servais said. “We go 3-2 and we get beat twice on 1-0 games by (Zack) Greinke and Urias. I like where we are at.”
Urias has slowly matured from one of baseball’s most touted pitching prospects in 2016 into the pitcher entrusted to close out the final three innings of Game 7 last fall for the Dodgers’ first World Series title since 1988.
He offered a glimpse of why, tossing seven scoreless innings, allowing one hit with a walk and a career-high 11 strikeouts in just 88 pitches.
With a riding fastball that he seemed to put on each corner of the strike zone at will and a biting curveball thrown out of the same release point as that fastball, Urias generated 17 swings-and-misses on pitches and just three balls hit with exit velocities of more than 90 mph. Basically, the Mariners didn’t hit many pitches and when they did, they were hit very weakly.
“There’s a reason he was out there pitching in the seventh game of the World Series last year for the world champions,” Servais said. “He’s got great stuff and he can command it. His presence on the mound, even though he’s a young pitcher, he’s got plenty of experience now and you can see why a guy like that flies through the minor leagues and he’s in the big leagues as quick as he is. You just don’t get many hits when guys are that good.“
Gonzales tossed seven innings against one of the most potent lineups in baseball minus Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger. He allowed just one run on two hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
“That’s Marco Gonzales right there in a nutshell,” Servais said. “His rhythm and his tempo of his delivery today was much more in sync. He was landing all of his pitches, commanding them all. That’s why he’s our opening-day starter. He was executing, sequencing of pitches. He had a game plan. He went in and executed it to a tee. It doesn’t get any better against a good hitting lineup over there.”
Gonzales struggled in his first two start this season, allowing 12 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings pitched. He came back with a better start against Baltimore (five innings, two runs allowed) to get his first victory. But this was his best outing since the 2020 season.
“I’ve mentioned some timing cues that I’ve been working on and fastball command, getting ahead, staying ahead and just executing pitches,” he said. “And really, it’s just challenging guys.”
The only run allowed came in a lengthy third inning. After allowing a leadoff walk to A.J. Pollock and a one-out walk to No. 9 hitter Austin Barnes, Gonzales got some help from his defense when Dylan Moore’s athleticism was put on display.
Former Mariner Chris Taylor scalded a line drive to the right side of second base, and it seemed like a certain run-scoring single. But Moore, who saved the victory Monday night with a leaping grab on a line drive, made perhaps an even more difficult catch. With a leaping dive at full extension, he was able to extend far enough to corral the baseball that had a 108 mph exit velocity.
It left Gonzales screaming in celebration.
But that good feeling ended on the next pitch, when a misplaced sinker right over the center of the plate was turned into a two-out run-scoring single by Corey Seager, who simply doesn’t miss pitches in that area.
“He was hacking first pitch,” Gonzales said “He has been for as long as we faced him. I just wanted to get that in on the inner half and try to get in on his hands.”
Gonzales didn’t allow another batter to reach base, retiring the next 13 in a row.
Given a 1-0 lead, Urias seemed get stronger despite his only hit allowed coming in the bottom of the third inning. With two outs, Mitch Haniger hit a slow ground ball to the right side of the infield where the second baseman would normally play but was vacant due to the shift. After that, Urias retired the next 13 hitters, striking out seven, to finish his outing.
Gonzales relished the chance to duel with Urias.
“No doubt, you love the tempo and the back and forth,” he said. “Julio was throwing the ball great. I was just trying to go out there and match him every inning.”
With both starters exiting, neither team’s offense got much relief in facing the opposing bullpen.
Right-handers Casey Sadler and Keynan Middleton worked scoreless innings to keep the Mariners’ deficit to one-run, but hard-throwing lefty Victor Gonzalez and longtime Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen worked scoreless frames to secure the victory.