Mariners, Gonzales go for sweep of Angels
The Seattle Mariners left-hander is scheduled to start the series finale on Sunday at Angel Stadium and try to help his team to a four-game sweep.
The Mariners (82-66) won all five of Gonzales’ previous starts against Los Angeles (73-76).
Gonzales is 3-0 in those games with a 3.00 ERA.
Gonzales (12-9, 4.24 ERA) hasn’t been as successful against the rest of the league, especially in the past six weeks. Since beating the Angels on July 29 in Anaheim, he is 0-4 in his past five starts with an 8.64 ERA.
Most of that damage was done in August, which coincided with the Mariners falling from a one-game lead over the Oakland A’s for the second wild card in the American League on Aug. 1 to 5 1/2 games behind the A’s on Aug. 31.
The Mariners enter Sunday 7 1/2 games back of the A’s.
After missing two starts because of a strained cervical muscle in his neck, Gonzales was much better in his last outing, however. On a limited pitch count on Tuesday against the visiting San Diego Padres, he allowed one run and four hits in five innings. He left with the score tied 1-1 before the Padres scored a run in the ninth to win 2-1.
Two years removed from Tommy John surgery, Gonzales has thrown 150 2/3 innings in his first full season as a starter. His previous career high was 40 innings last season.
“This is kind of uncharted territory for him as far as innings limits and what he’s done with his stuff, so we’ll keep a very, very close eye on him,” Seattle manager Scott Servais told mlb.com after his last start. “You won’t see us extend his pitch count much at all.”
Gonzales has struggled to put away Angels center fielder Mike Trout and shortstop Andrelton Simmons. Trout is 8-for-17 with a home run off Gonzales in his career and Simmons is 7-for-16.
The Angels will counter with rookie right-hander Jaime Barria.
Barria (10-9, 3.53 ERA) has been one of the biggest surprises for Los Angeles this season.
After a hot start followed by a flat middle of the season, Barria found his groove again in August.
He went 4-1 with a 1.82 ERA in six straight starts from Aug. 8 to Sept. 5. Barria took a slight step back in his last outing, allowing four runs, three hits and four walks in three innings of a 5-2 loss to the Texas Rangers.
“Uncharacteristic walks showed up for him,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia told mlb.com after the loss. “This guy usually makes pitches. He was a little out of sync and was really grinding.”
Barria faced the Mariners four times between June 12 and July 28, his low stretch of the season, and went 1-3 with a 3.80 ERA in those games.
Seattle designated hitter Nelson Cruz is 4-for-9 with two home runs against Barria, and right fielder Mitch Haniger is 3-for-8 with two home runs.