Taken in isolation, there wasn’t much for the Mariners not to like Tuesday in a 10-3 romp over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas.
Ben Gamel and Kyle Seager each hit three-run homers in pacing a balanced 15-hit attack. Gamel and Robinson Cano each had three hits. Mike Zunino drove in two runs.
The Mariners scored four runs in the second inning and three more in the third in support for Marco Gonzales, who finally managed to make it through five innings and get his first victory since arriving in early August from Triple-A Tacoma.
The wider view is more sobering.
Minnesota also won and, since the Twins hold the lead in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth, all the Mariners accomplished in hammering Texas was to tread water while losing a day off the calendar.
The Mariners (72-73) still trail Minnesota by 3 1/2 games and now have just 17 games remaining. Los Angeles, Texas and Kansas City are also sitting between the Mariners and Twins.
"You get down to the end here," Seager said, "and everything gets magnified. We knew where we’re at in the standings. We know who is ahead of us. We need to play better and take these games."
Back to the positives.
Gonzales (1-1) wobbled a bit through his five innings in giving up three runs and eight hits, but he made it — a notable achievement after failing to do so in all five of his previous starts, which briefly cost him a spot in the rotation.
"My focus tonight," he said, "was just getting ahead, throwing lots of strikes and hopefully getting lots of ground balls because the park does play pretty small here."
As he did Sept. 2 in pitching four scoreless relief innings against Oakland, Gonzales pitched entirely from the stretch.
"I think pitching out of the pen the other day really helped me to simplify things," he said. "I want to keep throwing strikes, and I want to get ahead. I think going out of the stretch eliminates some extra movements for me.
"Right now, that's huge."
The Mariners didn’t push it. Manager Scott Servais went to the bullpen to start the sixth inning even though Gonzales had thrown just 66 pitches. A relay of four relievers covered the final 12 outs with no damage.
"Five innings was kind of the goal coming in," Servais said. "Lucky for us, and for him, he had a little cushion to work with. It was nice getting those runs on the board early."
Gamel’s homer capped a four-run second inning that got the Mariners rolling against Texas starter Miguel Gonzalez, who then excited after yielding Seager’s three-run bomb in the third inning. Gonzalez fell to 7-11.
"That’s what it’s going to take," Servais said. "Up and down our lineup, we’ve got to start having more consistent at-bats."
***An athletic play: Gonzales’ most impressive moment wasn’t any pitch he threw but rather his heads-up, athletic play in helping the Mariners complete an inning-ending double play in the second.
The Rangers already had a run in and, with runners at first and second, had the tying run at the plate when Rougned Odor hit a sharp grounder to Yonder Alonso at first base.
Alonso threw to second for the force play and Gonzales, because he broke immediately from the mound to first base, was waiting for the return throw from shortstop Jean Segura.
Pitchers routinely hesitate before breaking for first base on such plays. And even those who break immediately typically lack the speed that Gonzales possesses. Being on the base meant Segura didn’t have to hit a moving target.
***150 club: Seager’s homer in the third inning was the 150th of his career. He has five homers in his last eight games.
The 150 homers rank seventh on the Mariners’ all-time list behind Ken Griffey Jr. (417), Edgar Martinez (309), Jay Buhner (307), Alex Rodriguez (189), Alvin Davis (160) and Raul Ibanez (156).
At age 29, Seager joins Griffey and Rodriguez as the only players who reached that milestone before age 30.
"That’s a cool thing," he said. "That’s something I’m definitely proud of. That’s some good company."
***Help at the plate: Before hitting a three-run homer, Gamel helped the Mariners score a run in the second inning with some coaching at the plate.
Instead of idly watching as Nelson Cruz tried to score from second base on Zunino’s single to left, Gamel served as a coach from the on-deck circle by signaling Cruz to slide toward the top of the plate.
Cruz followed the advice and barely beat the tag from catcher Robinson Chirinos, who had reach to his left to make the catch and then pull the ball back across the plate.
Gamel then hit a three-run homer for a 4-0 lead.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners