When Anthony Swarzak stepped into T-Mobile Park on Tuesday night to throw his first pitch as a member of the Marines, there was a little thought that shot into both manager Scott Servais's mind and the start-up Marco Gonzales – they had never seen veteran right-handed man ever in a game.
Swarzak, who was acquired in the offseason as part of the seven-player deal with the Mets, who sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to New York, arrived in spring training with a shoulder impingement. Being healthy enough to pitch in games, the sailors were already in their season playing in Japan.
"I saw him throw about five places in the barrel before we left," said manager Scott Servais.
But there was Swarzak on the moon in the ninth inning being asked to protect a one-run lead and Gonzales's gem of an excursion. Swarzak entered the game with one out and runners on the corners. After falling behind 2-0, Swarzak worked his way back in the counters to knock out Albert Pujols. He then made Jonathan Lucroy beat another weak ball to finish the game and secure a 2-1
The victory laid out a 5-1 homestand and improved Mariners for 7-1 in season. The two runs were the fewest scored by the marinas this season, beating a stroke of six rounds or more in five straight games.
"Heck of a ball game that was a homestand," Servais said. "Get out of the Japan trip, and no one really knows in Seattle, let alone around the country, what this team is about."
Most people at the Marines knew what Swarzak was about. So cut a difficult rescue in his first appearance of the season?
He figured he would pitch in the Tuesday night game that has been activated from the disabled list earlier in the day. He had only thrown into minor league matches in Arizona, and the sailors wanted to get him some big league battles as soon as possible.
But this kind of high lever situation wasn't necessarily the plan.
"When you pitcher late in the bullpen, you're mentally prepared for it," he said. "I was ready. I've been ready to pitch. I've been trying to prove myself here since spring training. That's what happens when you're new to the club. I want my teammates to believe I belong . "
Admittedly, Gonzales did not know what Swarzak was at the height. He knew the outgoing personality of the clubhouse, but he had never seen him chuckle personally.
"It was scary and amazing everything in a moment," Gonzales said. "For him to come in, get the job down and come in and do it on his first day with the team, I think it's pretty amazing."
The same word – amazing – could be used to describe Gonzalez's third start to the season. After dealing with minor command problems in his first two excursions, he delivered a brilliant performance. With pinpoint command and perfect pace, he put in 8 1/3 innings, running four hits with one turn and three strikes to improve to 3-0.
"Just trust my things and try to be safe" said. "I attacked early and put the guys away early and quickly."
It was the type of excursion that propelled Gonzales to the front of the rotation and made him part of their foundation forward.
"What an outing from Marco Gonzales," Servais said. "He was on top of his game. That's the best he's been throwing so far. But he had all his seats to work. He was just as effective."
In fact, Gonzales rolled through the first eight innings on only 88 seats so you could run. As he left the height after the eighth inning, he never considered that he would get out of the game.
Daniel Vogelbach made sure that Gonzales was in line for the deserved winner. With Edwin Encarnacion scraping off the starting line a few hours before the game as a precaution for a tender hand / wrist, Vogelbach just got his second start to the season.
He gave two of Mariners five hits in the game – his first season's hits. But the other was the largest. Vogelbach broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning and sent a line drive over the wall of the deep left center and landed into the area known as The Pen.
"You never know your number is called and you have to be ready to play every night," said vogelbach. "I'm just glad I could help the team win. In the beginning, I was looking for something to drive, but when I came to two strikes, just getting a pitch over the plate and finding a barrel."
It's not the type of homer that a player with average power can do at night in Seattle. It gave the Marines a homer in all eight of their games this season.
When the Marines had a lead, a "long" conversation came between Servais and Gonzalees in the hallway between Mariners clubhouse and dugout. It was about who would pitch the ninth inning.
"Marco had done a good job of getting us to the point if we had a specified one, I would have handed the ball to it closer," Servais said. "We have mixed and matched and tried to make it work down there (in the bullpen). My first reaction was to take him out. He had done his job. He quickly told me he didn't agree with that decision. which often times boys do. But he still had some lanes to work with. "
Under Gonzales's boy-next door look is a vicious competitor, outraged to let his feelings come out. He was stuck in the game.
"It's between me and skip," Gonzales said. "He wanted to go one way and I wanted to go the other one, but we talked for a second and it came out that I went out there. Coming in from the eighth, I didn't let myself be pulled and I think he saw it. I don't think he expected that answer for me. Tonight I really wanted it. "
Gonzales jogged to the height to start the ninth with a significant portion the 13,567 participants who stood up to acknowledge the moment. His ovation was even higher when he left the game two outs faster than he wanted.
After Zack Cozart went on the pitch to start the ninth, Gonzales Mike Trout went in four places. After falling behind the 2-0, there was no way that Gonzales should trace anything to Mariners main secret nemesis. Andrelton Simmons ended Gonzales's night with a single just past a diving Tim Beckham on shortstop, so trout could run first to third.
Servais went to his bullpen and urged Swarzak to get the Marines out of jams. Swarzak became the fourth pitcher in four games to record a rescue.
The angels produced their lonely round of Gonzales in the second entrance. Lucroy led off inning with a double over the head of mallex smith in the middle. He advanced to third on Kole Calhoun's ball to the second and scored on Kevan Smith's baseball to shortstop.
After Lucroy, Gonzales pulled the next 17 hitter in a row. Lucroy broke through continuous outs with two outs in the seventh, single up in the middle. But Gonzales got Calhoun to hit a weak ball to the first base to finish inning. He had thrown a total of 76 seats to get through seven innings.
After struggling to solve the riddle, which was the assortment of sinkers and basket balls from Angels, Trevor Cahill started, the Marines finally came to him at the bottom of the sixth inning. During the first five innings, Cahill had only allowed one hit – a third inning double for Daniel Vogelbach.
Dee Gordon spoke Seattle's next game of the game and drew a globe just inside the first base bag for a one-out double to start the rally in the sixth. Gordon advanced to third place on a wild pitch and then trotted home when Mitch Haniger slammed a double in the left field corner. After a few ugly swings in all three of his record exhibitions, the always relentless Haniger would not give in. He refused to chase a 3-2 change in dirt. When Cahill came back with a change on the next course, Haniger was ready for it.