The starter didn’t allow an earned run for the third straight start, and once again the Mariners scored just enough runs to win, 2-1.
Early in the season, the Mariners were able to win with less-than-stellar starting pitching because the offense was performing so well.
But with the Mariners’ lineup at less than full strength the past few weeks because of a multitude of injuries, the rotation has picked it up.
Leading the way has been Marco Gonzales, who threw another gem Monday afternoon, not allowing an earned run for his third straight start as the Mariners eked out a 2-1 victory over the Texas Rangers to stretch their winning streak to four games and improve to 13 games above .500 (33-20).
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“Pitching is the name of the game and it’s a crazy run we have been on, and it seems like I have been saying the same thing every day,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais, whose team is 9-1 over the past 10 games. “It’s been driven by the consistency of our starting pitching, and our bullpen has been very good for a long stretch. And just enough offense to give us a W today.”
Gonzales, who has not allowed an earned run in 191/3 innings, was masterful as the Rangers only rarely made significant contact. He allowed four hits and one unearned run in 62/3 innings.
Two of the hits he allowed were slow rollers on the infield and another was actually caught in right field by Mitch Haniger (but there was no need for replay after the hitter was called out trying to stretch it to a double).
On May 12, Gonzales fell to 3-3 with a 5.31 ERA after allowing 10 hits, two walks and four earned runs in a 4-3 loss to Detroit. His ERA is now 3.60 and he has allowed 11 hits and seven walks during his 192/3 -inning streak without allowing an earned run.
“I am really happy for him,” Servais said of Gonzales, who had a 6.08 ERA last year after missing the 2016 season because of elbow surgery. “That’s what our scouts saw when we traded for him last year (from St. Louis). Today wasn’t his sharpest outing … but he hung in there. He continues to build confidence.”
Gonzales said the key for him has been staying aggressive.
“I’m just trying to keep my part short and simple and get back in the dugout so our guys can go and swing the bats,” Gonzales said.
Gonzales said he had faith in the offense, and the Mariners, like in many recent games, got just enough of it.
For five innings, Seattle hitters were flummoxed by former Mariner Doug Fister, who was working on a one-hitter heading into the sixth inning.
It looked like the Mariners might need a break to score, and they got one in the sixth. With Guillermo Heredia on first base with one out, Denard Span hit a bullet to second baseman Rougned Odor that looked like a sure double play.
But Odor bobbled the ball and that proved costly as Span beat the throw back to first base, allowing the Rangers to get just the second out of the inning. The Mariners took advantage, with consecutive singles by Haniger, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager leading to a pair of runs.
Cruz’s hit to left field tied the score and Seager gave the Mariners a lead with a liner to right field.
Texas scored in the top of the third without a ball being hit out of the infield. Odor, who led off the inning with an infield hit, later scored on a passed ball by Mariner catcher Mike Zunino.
For a while, it looked like that might be enough for Texas. But the Mariners, as they have done so often, rallied. And tasked with keeping the lead, the bullpen kept it.
James Pazos got the final out of the seventh inning, Alex Colome stranded a runner at second in a scoreless eighth and Edwin Diaz worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth for his league-leading 19th save.
The bullpen has allowed one run in 271/3 innings over the past nine games.
“We’ve got a complete bullpen right now,” Servais said. “We’d like to have a little more cushion when we get to the eighth and ninth (inning), and we will continue to work with that.”