Not even Marco Gonzales could keep the Minnesota Twins from scoring in bunches.
The Seattle Mariners ace, who has recorded losses in three of his past four starts, worked three quick innings Friday night before the Twins offense — which hung 11 runs on the Mariners a night earlier — scored five runs in the next two frames to build a comfortable early lead. The Mariners never recovered, dropping the 7-1 loss at T-Mobile Park.
Gonzales (5-3, 3.65 ERA) pitched less than six innings for his second consecutive outing, completing five, and allowed six runs (season-high five earned) on eight hits, while striking out three and walking two. He last won a game on April 25 against Texas. That win pushed his season record to a spotless 5-0 in seven starts. He’s 0-3 in the four starts he’s made since.
“We have a lot of baseball to play,” Gonzales said. “I’m not looking at April’s success versus May’s success, I’m looking at the next start and how I can get better at that one.”
He retired the first seven batters in order Friday before Minnesota took a 1-0 lead it never lost on an Ehire Adrianza solo shot in the third. Gonzales worked out of the inning, but more trouble came in the fourth.
Marwin Gonzalez, C.J. Crown, Willians Astudillo and Max Kepler hit four consecutive singles to open the frame, with Gonzalez scoring on Kepler’s RBI line drive to center. Gonzales struck out Miguel Sano for the first out in a bases-loaded jam, but a sacrifice fly to center by Adrianza pushed across another run to make it 3-0.
“I think they strung a couple hits together, timely hits,” Gonzales said. “Other than that, some ground balls that found some holes. But, I felt like overall maybe them making some adjustments, being a little more aggressive early in the count and leaving some pitches up in the zone I think was a deadly combination there.”
The fifth was worse. Jorge Polanco and Gonzalez each singled, and Cron walked to load the bases again with one out. Astudillo hit a sac fly to left, and Mariners left fielder Domingo Santana tried to throw down Polanco at home, but the ball bounced off of catcher Tom Murphy, allowing runners to advance to second and third.
Santana was charged with his seventh error of the season on the throw, which is the most of any outfielder in baseball by a significant margin. Three Mariners — Santana, Tim Beckham (11) and Ryon Healy (eight) — rank among the 10 players in the majors with the most individual errors this season.
Seattle (22-25) has a stunning MLB-leading 50 errors in 47 games, and has committed at least one in each of its past five games.
Santana’s throwing error allowed the Twins to plate two more runs the following at-bat, when Kepler singled to center to push across Gonzalez and Cron, giving Minnesota a 6-0 lead.
“I thought Marco threw the ball OK,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “They got some hits. The one inning had the couple ground ball hits, the check swing blooper. They did situationally hit. They got some big hits with guys on base. I thought the big hit that kind of really bust it open was the Kepler two-out single.”
The Mariners scored their only run of the game in the bottom half of the inning on an Edwin Encarnacion two-out RBI single that scored Dee Gordon from second.
Encarnaion hit the 350th double of his career in the first inning, giving the Mariners runners at second and third with one out, but a pair of strikeouts ended the threat, and Seattle went on to strand eight runners and finish 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Twins starter Martin Perez (6-1, 2.89) completed 6 2/3 innings, allowing the one run on five hits, while striking out seven and walking four.
“He’s off to a good start this season,” Servais said. “He’s really changed his style of pitching from what we’d seen over in Texas. We knew that going into the game, but he’s throwing the ball a little bit harder, using the cutter a lot and the changeup, versus he used to be more of a sinker, curveball guy with a good changeup in the past.
“He threw the ball really well. We had some chances early on. The situational hitting wasn’t quite on tonight.”
Mariners reliever Austin Adams retired six consecutive batters and struck out four in two innings of relief, while Parker Markel pitched a 1-2-3 eighth. Matt Festa, who was recalled from Tacoma earlier in the day, allowed a two-out double to Jonathan Schoop in the ninth that scored Adrianza.
Mariners lefty Wade LeBlanc (2-0, 4.50) is scheduled to make his first start since April 12 against Houston, when he departed early with an oblique strain. He’s been on the 10-day injured list for the past month. Right-hander Jose Berrios (6-2, 3.05) is projected to start for Minnesota.
First pitch is at 7:10 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Root Sports Northwest and 710 ESPN radio.