It was a welcome return to T-Mobile Park for the Seattle Mariners, and a very unwelcome introduction to the major leagues for Texas starter Taylor Hearn.
The Mariners, who scored three runs combined in their previous two games, scored five in the first and knocked Hearn out of the game after a third of an inning.
The runs kept on coming, not that Marco Gonzales needed much help. The left-hander improved to 5-0 with seven shutout innings in the Mariners’ 14-2 victory over the Rangers on Thursday night at T-Mobile Park.
The Mariners snapped a three-game losing streak and a six-game losing streak at home after going 0-6 on their previous homestand. And with Houston losing, the Mariners moved back into first place in the American League West, a half-game ahead of the Astros.
“You go from being shut out (1-0 Wednesday at San Diego) to scoring 14 points,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais, “That’s baseball. It was a really good offensive night, but Marco Gonzales really set the tone. He was much crisper than we have seen him, coming out of the chute. I thought the last three innings the other day against Anaheim he kind of got it going … and tonight it carried over from that one. It starts on the mound and he certainly led us tonight.”
There wasn’t much suspense after the first inning.
Hearn, 24, was called up for the game after going 1-3 with a 4.05 earned-run average in four starts with Class AAA Nashville. He looked out of his league against Seattle.
Hearn walked the bases loaded to start his outing, then gave up a run on an infield single to Tim Beckham. With one out, Ryon Healy drilled a 3-1 pitch into the left-field corner for a bases-clearing double to make it 4-0. After another walk and a single loaded the bases, Hearn was mercifully relieved.
“They had a rookie out there and we were making him work and making him throw strikes,” Servais said. “We got to him early. And we tacked on, which was nice to see. We didn’t let up.”
Seattle added one more run in the first, two more in the fourth and fifth and three in the sixth, including a pair on Tim Beckham’s two-run homer to center field.
The 12-0 lead was overkill for Gonzales, who was in control throughout. Only once did the Rangers get a base runner to second base against him and he allowed no more than one base runner in any inning.
Gonzales allowed six hits, walked none and tied a career-high with nine strikeouts while becoming the first pitcher in the big leagues to reach five wins this season.
“He’s a great competitor and he’s got four quality pitches,” Servais said. “He’s a complete package. He’s a good fielder, he hold runners well, but ultimately it comes down to his competitiveness. He’s a tough nut out there.”
The only downer for the Mariners was missing out on a chance to tie their most lopsided shutout in history at 14-0 when the Rangers scored two unearned runs in the eighth inning off Roenis Elias.
Not that the Mariners were complaining. Not with that kind of a start to a six-game homestand.
“Everybody chipped in and it was a nice way to start the homestand,” Servais said.