ANAHEIM, Calif. — Five days ago, Marco Gonzales stood in front of his locker seething about the outing he’d just delivered. With pursed lips and an indignant tone, he derided his performance, labeling it “unacceptable.” He demanded accountability, starting with himself, while promising to pitch with conviction and aggressiveness.
Facing the team that sent him into that tirade for a second consecutive start, he made strong step toward a return to pitching to his expectations in the Mariners’ 6-2 win over the Angels on Friday night.
After getting rocked for 10 runs on nine hits in his previous outing that lasted just 4 2/3 innings, Gonzales grinded through 5 2/3 innings on Friday night, allowing just two runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts to even his record at 6-6. It was the Mariners’ first win in a start by Gonzales since April 25. They’d lost his previous seven.
“I just wanted to correct a few things and be a little more consistent and be in the zone with all my pitches,” Gonzales said. “Just compete.”
He also threw his pitches with conviction, which was another of his self-criticisms.
“I’m definitely happy with the progress,” he said. “I’m not satisfied, but it’s step in the right direction.
Mariners manager Scott Servais knew about Gonzales’ comments from the previous outing and knew they weren’t hollow.
“Marco is one of our leaders, and he takes a lot of pride in doing the right thing,” Servais said. “It’s frustrating when you aren’t producing and helping the team. And he takes it as hard as anybody. There’s a few other guys like that in there as well. It’s great to see. Marco is not afraid to step up and hold himself accountable. His stuff was really good tonight. He was aggressive. He had a really good plan. Certainly the Angels got on him last time, and he made a nice adjustment and got the results.”
His redemption was greatly aided by an offense that is starting a resurgence, bashing three homers — two from Domingo Santana and a big three-run blast from Tom Murphy — and scoring more than five runs for the fourth consecutive game.
The Angels grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Kole Calhoun stayed on a misplaced curveball from Gonzales, sending it into the shrubbery behind the wall in center field for a solo homer.
The Mariners answered in the fourth inning off Angels starter Andrew Heaney. Mac Williamson, who is replacing the injured Mitch Haniger in the lineup, dumped a soft two-out single to center to score Tim Beckham to tie the game at 1-1.
After giving up the homer, Gonzales retired 13 of the next 15 batters, issuing just two walks and not allowing a hit.
His teammates gave him a lead. Santana smashed a solo homer to deep right-center with two outs in the fifth inning to make it 2-1.
The lead ballooned against a tiring Heaney in the sixth, again with two outs. Murphy clubbed a towering homer into the Mariners’ bullpen off a misplaced fastball to make it 5-1.
“He threw me probably nine straight fastballs in three different at-bats,” Murphy said. “In the back of my head, the curveball is still there after not seeing it and not seeing it and being down 0-2. I shortened up and saw the fastball in and put a good swing on it.”
Gonzales couldn’t quite make it out of the sixth inning. A one-out walk to Mike Trout and a two-out bloop single from Albert Pujols forced him out of the game at 109 pitches. His replacement, Cory Gearrin, gave up an RBI single to pinch-hitter Tommy LaStella that was charged to Gonzales. Gearrin came back to retire Calhoun to end the inning.
Santana got that run back in the top of the seventh against reliever Luis Garcia, hammering another solo homer in almost the exact same spot as his first. It was his fifth multihomer game of his career. He has 13 homers and 47 RBI.
“I’m just trying to get comfortable again,” he said.
Austin Adams and Brandon Brennan were solid out of the bullpen each pitching scoreless innings without incident. Roenis Elias walked two batters in the ninth but didn’t allow a run.