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Confidence, cutter helped Marco Gonzales win his 2018 Mariners debut

Marco Gonzales' quality start helped the Mariners win their series opener in San Francisco. (AP)
LISTEN: Marco Gonzales, Mariners Pitcher

The first start of the 2018 season is in the books for Mariners left-hander Marco Gonzales, and the 26-year-old Gonzaga alum couldn’t have hoped for much better.

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Gonzales pitched a MLB career-high 6 1/3 innings Tuesday, throwing 92 pitches as he held the San Francisco Giants to three earned runs on six hits and no walks in the Mariners’ 6-4 victory.

It was easily the best start for Gonzales since he was acquired by the M’s in a trade from the St. Louis Cardinals last season. The use of his cutter, which he didn’t throw in 2017 due to it being his first season back from Tommy John surgery, was a factor in his success against the Giants.

“The cutter was something I decided to hold off on just because my elbow health was a concern and I wanted to make sure that I was healthy, so bringing that back this year has added a new weapon for me,” Gonzales told Danny, Dave and Moore shortly after his win Tuesday.

He estimated he threw around a dozen cutters in the win at AT&T Park.

“The ability to go hard in to righties and something to kinda sweep away from lefties too. It’s a huge weapon for me and I’m excited about the usage of it, too.”
It helped that Gonzales was spotted a four-run lead by the Mariners’ offense before he even took the mound, too.

“I felt confident,” he said. “My biggest goal today was just to go out and throw strikes, especially (because) our offense puts up four in the first. Can’t ask for a bigger boost of confidence going into the game. Really just trying to get them into swing mode and attack the zone and hopefully throw a lot of strikes.”

That he did – 64 to be exact, representing just under 70 percent of his total pitches in San Francisco.

Gonzales said that despite thinking he was pitching close to 100 percent last season, he has since realized after a strong spring training that it wasn’t quite the case.

“Looking back, I thought I was close (to my full potential last year),” he said. “But knowing where I am at now and the conviction I have in my pitches, my command is up a lot more from last year too. … I hope that my ceiling rises with that. My confidence has sure gone up, and my arm health – that’s the biggest thing.”

You can hear a highlight of Gonzales’ interview embedded above, or find the entire segment in this podcast of Tuesday’s episode of Danny, Dave and Moore.

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