SHANNON DRAYER

Mariners’ Marco Gonzales has another strong showing in win over Brewers

Mar 2, 2018, 4:30 PM
Mariners lefty Marco Gonzales has shown more confidence in his pitches this spring. (AP)...
Mariners lefty Marco Gonzales has shown more confidence in his pitches this spring. (AP)
(AP)

PHOENIX, Ariz. – There were plenty of positives to point to in the Mariners’ 4-2 win over the Brewers.

Mike Zunino, who has been struggling to get his timing at the plate, checked in with his first base hit and another ball hit solidly to center. Daniel Vogelbach recorded his first home run. Backup candidates Cameron Perkins and Gordon Beckham continued to hit, each putting up two, and Dan Altavilla tossed his third scoreless inning this spring.

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The standout of the game, however, was Marco Gonzales with his second strong outing of the spring. While this start was a little bumpier than his first – he faced adversity from the get-go when a Lorenzo Cain bloop single off a cutter was followed up by a Jonathan Villar bunt single – but that adversity of runners on first and second with no outs was something he was ready for.

“It was good,” Gonzales said. “I need that. It’s not always going to be flowers and rainbows. Guys on base, we have been working on a lot of stuff (with a) man on second so it’s good to be in that situation.”

Mariners manager Scott Servais continues to be impressed with what he has seen this spring from Gonzales.

“He didn’t give in. I think he has more weapons he’s got confidence in than maybe last year. It’s good to see. He’s going to need it,” Servais said.

Gonzales now has a cutter at his disposal. While pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. cautioned earlier this spring that the pitch would most likely be the last to come along for Gonzales in camp, Gonzales called the pitch effective for him so far and one he looks forward to throwing in certain situations. He estimated he threw seven or eight cutters against the Brewers. Also of help, Gonzales throws exclusively out of the stretch so runners on had no impact on his delivery.

“That was the mentality – not change anything,” he said. “You throw some of your most important pitches out of the stretch regardless. I am working on my full windup, when I will incorporate that I’m not sure. Right now I feel comfortable with it so I am hesitant to change it.”

Another strong outing for Gonzales to build on. What strikes me is the confidence. There are no signs of the struggles from last year. He’s been able to work up and down, in and out with his pitches looking sharp early. After his first start he said that while last year he thought he was at 90 percent coming off the Tommy John surgery, with what he has seen and felt lately he realized that it was probably closer to 60-70 percent. This is not uncommon for pitchers coming off surgery. They often forget what 100 percent was as most were far from that when they had surgery. As Servais said, Gonzales has more weapons he has confidence in and it has been fun to watch him attack his first two outings.

On the not-so-good side of the ball, left-handed specialist Marc Rzepczynski struggled in relief, giving up two runs on two hits and two walks in his one inning pitched.

“Zep got out of whack a little there for a couple of hitters. It’s going to happen early in spring even with the veterans. He righted the ship,” said Servais.

Also of concern, left fielder Ben Gamel was a late scratch from the game after experiencing lower back soreness following morning batting cage work.

“We will just give him a couple of days and see where that is,” said Servais. “I don’t think it is anything serious, but we will see what happens.”

While Gamel was a surprise scratch from the lineup, Guillermo Heredia was a surprise add to the travel roster. Offseason shoulder surgery has kept him out of games early but he has been hitting for some time. The Mariners will keep him out of the field, where he is more likely to get hurt, for a while longer, but they will get him at-bats where they can until then.

Up next, the Mariners night game as they host the Angels on Saturday at 5 p.m. on 710 ESPN Seattle.

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Mariners’ Marco Gonzales has another strong showing in win over Brewers