We break down a tough series for the Mariners in Los Angeles, which concluded a disappointing five-game road trip where they only won once.
As has been widely reported, Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert will both make their Major League debut on Thursday, against the Cleveland Indians. And the timing is just right for the Mariners, who are in need of an urgent boost.
Seattle are coming off their first series sweep of the season, albeit in just a two-game set against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Regardless, they have now lost three consecutive series and four of their previous five.
Wednesday’s 7-1 defeat to the Dodgers equaled their season-high of four consecutive losses. They also fell below .500 for the first time since the seventh game of the 2021 campaign, when they were 3-4.
As always, there is plenty to discuss. Here are three takeaways from the series against the Dodgers, together with some other notable highlights:
3) Mariners fail to take advantage of fine start from Kikuchi
Since Yusei Kikuchi‘s outstanding one-hit, no-run outing against the Houston Astros, expectations have been raised. However, despite the pitcher continuing to show more consistency, he has been short on good luck.
In Kikuchi’s last start, he had the misfortune to be up against the Orioles’ John Means, who produced a no-hitter. On Tuesday though, you can make the case that the Mariners let down their main pitcher.
The 29-year-old was phenomenal during the first six innings against the Dodgers, as he allowed just one run and helped Seattle to a 4-1 lead. He set season-highs, with 11 strikeouts and 17 swinging strikes. (He surpassed 200 strikeouts for his Major League career.)
Kikuchi’s command was also highlighted by matching his season low of just one walk. However, he finally started to wear down in the seventh inning and was removed after one out, with two men on base.
Anthony Misiewicz then came in and continued his recent slump in form, loading the bases with a walk and subsequently giving up a two-run single. Unfortunately for Kikuchi, the two earned runs went against him.
As a result, the Japan native’s final stat line showed six hits and three earned runs in 6.1 innings. He also fell short of his seven innings target, which he had reached in three of his previous four starts.
However, this shouldn’t take away from the reality that Kikuchi pitched better than a cursory glance of his statistics would seem to indicate. He is finally beginning to live up to the hype which persuaded the Mariners to sign him in the first place.
After the game, Kikuchi was asked what worked for him on the night. Speaking to the media through his translator, he said:
“Overall I felt great out there. I wasn’t trying to rack up the strikeouts or anything like that. I was just going out there, executing my plan and the results were 11 strikeouts.”
One thing which has helped Kikuchi is an improved changeup. Again speaking through his translator, he said.
“[Hisashi] Iwakuma gave me a few pointers regarding this pitch and I really started to throw it back in Houston (his one-hit performance) in games a good amount. I really do have a lot more confidence in that pitch now and I think it’s a great pitch; a much better pitch compared to the beginning of the year.”
Mangers Scott Servais was full of praise for the performance by Kikuchi. Speaking to the media, Servais said:
“[Kikuchi] continues to get better and better, and build as the season goes along. Against a really good lineup he was really aggressive, with really good stuff.”
Overall, although still relatively early in the campaign, Kikuchi is on course for his best season yet in the Majors, which projected career-bests essentially across the board. Now he just needs to receive a little bit of good fortune to start racking up more wins, both individually and for the team as a whole.
NEXT: MORE FUTILITY ON OFFENSE