After all the high-fives and handshakes on the field, Marco Gonzales stopped by the edge of the Mariners dugout and looked up into the T-Mobile Park stands. There, halfway up the first section, members of Gonzales’ family stood and waved down at him.
Gonzales waved back and blew a kiss, a small gesture to finish a big day for the Mariners’ left-hander. With extended family in town to meet his infant daughter, Gonzales pitched one of the best games of his career, a complete-game two-hitter to beat the Texas Rangers, 3-1, on Thursday afternoon.
“It’s just special to have family here,” Gonzales said, choking up momentarily in his postgame Zoom call. “It’s the first time my dad and my grandma have met the baby, and obviously to have (his wife) Monica and (his daughter) Grace here — just special times, man.
“I’ve been been waiting on this dad strength to come around.”
The Mariners improved to 61-55 and pulled within five games of the second wild card spot. They host Toronto for a three-game series starting Friday.
After a rough first half of the season — which included a five-week stint on the injured list with a strained pitching arm — Gonzales has been terrific of late. In three August starts, he has allowed just two runs in 21.2 innings.
The crowd of 14,031 at T-Mobile Park rose to its feet as Gonzales built an 0-2 count on the Rangers’ Jonah Heim with two outs in the ninth inning. On his 108th pitch, Gonzales got Heim to swing-and-miss at a 90-mph high fastball to end the game.
Gonzales then spun and screamed in celebration. He finished with just two hits allowed — one of them a solo home run by Charlie Culberson in the second inning — plus nine strikeouts and only one walk.
Jarred Kelenic continued his bounce-back August with a sac fly to drive in the Mariners’ first run, and J.P. Crawford and Jake Fraley each hit solo home runs off Texas’ Mike Foltynewicz.
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