Gonzales' solid effort yields first win with club

Gonzales' solid effort yields first win with club

ARLINGTON -- For Marco Gonzales, the best is almost certainly yet to come. But the promising southpaw picked up his first win for the Mariners in Tuesday's 10-3 victory over the Rangers, and that's a big step in the right direction.

In his first year back from Tommy John surgery, the former Gonzaga University standout has been building back up his arm. His confidence will get a boost, as well, as he completed five innings for the first time since his acquisition from the Cardinals.

"I'm just trying to show the organization what I can do and pitch to the best of my ability," Gonzales said. "And most importantly, stay healthy, because I know I'm going to help the team most when I'm on the field."

The 25-year-old allowed eight hits and three runs and hit that five-inning mark for the first time in only 66 pitches, before manager Scott Servais went to his bullpen, knowing Gonzales hadn't started in two weeks as Seattle has shuffled its starters and used several of its young prospects in long-relief situations.

Gonzales took advantage of one of those bullpen opportunities with four shutout innings and two hits on Sept. 2 against the A's, then followed that up with Tuesday's solid start.

The lefty has shown promising stuff in the early going of most of his outings, before running into trouble in his second or third time through the lineup. But this time, he rolled through the fourth and fifth innings without issue before turning an 8-3 lead over to the bullpen.

That nice cushion presented a comfortable win for an appreciative young pitcher.

"I really have to credit it to the offense," Gonzales said. "It was all them tonight. That early lead was huge. I just tried to keep us in the game and put up zeros. Our offense was doing work tonight, so I was just trying to get those guys back in the dugout."

Gonzales doesn't figure to get a lot more starts down the stretch with Felix Hernandez and James Paxton returning to the rotation later this week, but he now has something to build on.

"The relief outing he had was really good for four innings and tonight he gets his first win for the Mariners, so that's a nice confidence booster there," Servais said. "We'll keep him going. With the addition of Felix and Paxton to the rotation, we have a lot of guys. We'll kind of pick and choose.

"I think it's really important to give Marco and Andrew Moore and even [Ariel] Miranda now a bit of a breather. Hopefully we can mix and match when we start those guys. You might not see them for seven or eight days, but it gives them time to recoup so they're fresh when they go out there."

Gonzales certainly isn't going to argue how often he's used nor getting lifted after 66 pitches in this one.

"That's his decision and I'll leave that up to him," he said. "But it's late in the year and a lot of people forget, I'm coming off Tommy John my first year back, so I understand it and I'm good with that decision."

And Gonzales vows that bigger and better things lie ahead.

"I'm looking forward to the second year [back from elbow surgery]," he said. "A lot of guys I've talked with say the first year coming back can be hit or miss, and the second year is when you kind of settle in and dial it back up and feel completely normal. Although I've felt great this year, knock on wood."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.