Mariners: Gilbert’s strong start not enough as bats go quiet

Logan Gilbert looks good in his first start of 2023, but the Mariners can only muster three hits in a 2-0 loss to the Guardians.

Logan Gilbert couldn’t have done much more on Saturday night, to give the Mariners a genuine chance to win. On the flip side however, the M’s bats couldn’t have done much less, to ruin said chance to win.

Gilbert continued to show why he appears destined to eventually become a staff ace. He was excellent in six innings, allowing just four hits and a walk, while striking out seven opposing batters.

Unfortunately for the 25-year-old, one of his four hits resulted in a solo homer in the top of the fourth. Thanks to the Mariners’ stone cold bats, the single earned run he allowed meant he was unfairly saddled with the loss.

Mariners offense gives little reason to cheer

The M’s could only muster three hits on the night, with two of those coming from their future superstar Julio Rodriguez. (The other hit came courtesy of Tommy La Stella – his first in a Mariners uniform.)

Ironically, it was Rodriguez who had the opportunity to steal a victory for the Mariners in the bottom of the eight. Down 2-0, he came to the plate with two outs and two on base, ready to once again deliver in a clutch situation.

It wasn’t meant to be on this occasion though, as the 2022 AL Rookie of the Year struck out swinging. In fairness to him, he wasn’t helped by a called second strike which was well outside the zone.

Gilbert won’t change his approach

Gilbert does not deserve any criticism for what was ultimately a 2-0 loss to the Guardians. However, this is a player who expects alot from himself.

The righty held his hand up about where he went wrong on the fastball which Josh Naylor sent into the stands in the fourth inning. Speaking to the media, Gilbert said:

“I liked the pitch call, but I just left it up a little bit. It’s a balance. You want to be aggressive, but obviously that’s not the spot to go to. There’s a small margin for error at this level.”

As much as Gilbert lamented the pitch, don’t expect him to change his approach any time soon. As he said:

“At the end of the day, I like being aggressive and attacking. I feel like over the course of a season, that aggressiveness usually wins or helps you out more.”

One of several encouraging aspects from Gilberts’ outing, was the regular season introduction of his new-look splitter. He said:

“I felt like I had a high workload with the splitter in spring training. I’m trying to be cognizant of that, and not wary, but back off in between starts and stuff like that … I wanted to make sure I felt fine today and did, and then when we eventually went to it, it worked pretty well tonight.”

After Gilbert departed, the bullpen kept the Mariners in the game, combining to allow just one hit in three innings. It was just unfortunate that the solitary hit resulted in the Guardians’ second solo homer of the night, in the top of the seventh.

Yes, there is little doubt it was the M’s underwhelming offense which cost them the opportunity in a very winnable game. Fans can only hope this is not going to be a recurring theme, as was the case last year.

Cleveland’s pitching on point

As frustrating as the Mariners’ bats were, it is only fair to give some credit to the Guardians’ pitching. In particular, Aaron Civale.

Civale was exceptional on Saturday night, allowing just one walk and two hits in seven innings. As M’s manager Scott Servais said:

“I thought Civale was really good. He was ahead in the count all night. It was a lot of cutters, and the curveball is a very effective pitch for him. He got in a really good rhythm against us.”

Ty France, one of the better Mariners hitters, went even further in praising Civale. He said:

“He was pretty dominant tonight. He had everything working, which makes it a lot harder. Especially when you have a plan going up there based off how he’s pitched you in the past and then he completely does the opposite.”

Overall, Servais accepted it was just one of those games and he is ready to move on for the final game of the series. As he said:

“We were dominated by some really good pitching. We’ve got to come back (on Sunday) and get a split in the series and keep on moving.”

Marco Gonzales will get the start in the series finale on Sunday afternoon. Mariners fans can only hope he gets off to a strong start in 2023, aided by some desperately needed improved offense.

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In other news, it turns out there might have been an extremely good reason for Robbie Ray’s poor outing on Friday night. The Mariners have placed him on the 15-day injured list with a Grade 1 left flexor strain.

Ray told the media he felt his forearm start to tighten up during the second inning.┬áThe M’s plan to shut him down from throwing for the next two weeks before he’s re-evaluated.

We appreciate it’s extremely early in the season. However, are you concerned that the lack of offense will stop the Mariners challenging for the playoffs in 2023? Let us know in the comments section below.

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