Marco Gonzales shows he’s still a major factor in rotational change as he helps Mariners beat Blue Jays

TORONTO — Before Logan Gilbert pitched a pro pitch, when George Kirby was still shooting fastballs at Elon University and Robbie Ray was still trying to tune his mechanics and exploit his stuff so other teams were the pitcher worthy of a $115 million contract. , Marco Gonzales stepped forward to lead the Mariners pitching staff.

As the new regime moved away, albeit at times awkwardly, from Felix Hernandez, Gonzales, who was acquired in a mid-season trade in 2017, became the de facto ace of the staff despite the typical physical gifts of a starter.

With a poor competitive streak that belied his boy-next-door appearance, he did everything the Mariners could have asked for and more. He performed. He set the example. And he demanded accountability.

But the signing of Ray, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, the emergence of Gilbert as a dominant starter, and the debut of Kirby, one of baseball’s top pitching prospects, the accomplishments and Gonzales’ contributions were cast aside like old toys at Christmas. for shiny new gifts in the rotation.

For the second time on this road trip, Gonzales showed why what he has done and what he is still capable of should not be overlooked or undervalued despite an uneven start to the season.

The stalwart Mariners left-hander beat Toronto ace Kevin Gausman, ensuring he avoided a sweep by the Blue Jays with a 5-1 win.

Facing a strong Blue Jays lineup loaded with dangerous right-handed hitters, Gonzales pitched six innings, allowing one run on five hits with three walks and two strikeouts to improve to 2-4 on the season.

Gausman, who entered the game with a 3-2 record and a 2.40 ERA, pitched just five innings – tying his shortest appearance of the season – allowing two runs on seven hits with a walk and three strikeouts. Toronto was 5-2 in its previous seven starts.

Gonzales delivered a similar outing to start the road trip. Facing Max Scherzer, the Mets’ perennial Cy Young Award contender at CitiField, Gonzales pitched 6 2/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits with three walks and five strikeouts, but took no decision in Seattle’s 2-1 victory.

In its six innings on the job, Seattle provided two rounds of support despite constant pressure with an aggressive approach against striker Gausman.

Seattle charged the no-outs on singles from Adam Frazier, Ty France and JP Crawford to start the game. Jesse Winker gave Seattle a 1-0 lead with a sack fly that scored Frazier. The set ended when Julio Rodriguez’s hard-ground ball (106 mph speed out) in third was turned into a double play finished by Matt Chapman on a trick snag from a difficult jump.

Toronto tied the game in the third set. After allowing back-to-back singles to start the inning, Gonzales then issued back-to-back walks to Bo Bichette and Vlad Guerrero Jr. to force a run.

Seattle lined it up for a win when Cal Raleigh hit a fastball off Gausman’s first pitch for a solo homer to the opposite court at left center for a 2-1 lead. It was the first home run Gausman had cleared this season. He had faced 192 batters this season without allowing a home run.

The Mariners opened play when Gausman left the game. Ty France smashed a two-run homer against Trevor Richards in the seventh inning and Abraham Toro, a native of Canada, added a solo homer in the ninth inning, much to the delight of his family in the stands.

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