Mariners early season struggles continue in 7-3 loss to Angels

George Kirby is unable to stop the bleeding, as the Seattle Mariners fall to 1-4 with their fourth consecutive loss at T-Mobile Park.

When George Kirby last appeared for the Mariners at T-Mobile Park, it was during the third-longest game in postseason history. And he thrived, powering through 7.0 innings allowing just six hits, zero walks and no runs.

There was to be no repeat on Monday night, in Kirby’s first start of the 2023 campaign. Instead, he added to Seattle’s early-season struggles.

Not what was expected

The 25-year-old lasted just 4.1 innings versus the divisional rival Angels. In the process, he allowed nine hits, four earned runs and was tagged with the loss.

Kirby did offer some positives as he had five strikeouts and just one walk, thanks in large part to his fastball. This was largely undone however, by a lack of reliability in any of his secondary pitches.

As much as the Rye, New York native lacked consistency, he was conscious of Seattle going to the bullpen too early. This dogged determination saw the Mariners tied at 2-2 through four innings.

In the end though Kirby was undone in the top of the fifth, courtesy of the sensational Shohei Ohtani. The 2021 AL MVP’s deep two-run homer ultimately proved to be the winning score.

It was only the second home run Kirby had given up since June 27 last year. While there is no shame in being a victim of Ohtani, it still ended the righty’s evening.

Kirby was defiant when discussing the Ohtani homer after the game, while also acknowledging where he went wrong. Speaking to the assembled media, he said:

“I’m not going to be scared of him. I probably just could’ve let that changeup go down a little bit more. I left it up.”

Kirby also discussed overall where he has to improve, albeit he’s not going to change his mindset. He said:

“They were swinging a lot. I could have gone inside a lot more today because that makes my four-seam so much better, when I’m going in with the¬†two(-seamer). So that’s something we’ve got to do next week more. But yeah, I’m just going to keep attacking the zone and try to beat guys in the zone.”

The bullpen kept the Mariners within 4-3 for two innings, before Matthew Festa entered in the top of the eighth. Festa subsequently gave up two hits, a trio of walks and three runs, to provide the final 7-3 scoreline in favor of Los Angeles.

A constant menace to the Mariners

Mike Trout has often proved to be a thorn in Seattle’s side. Monday night proved no different as he reached base in all five plate appearances, via a hit, three walks and a hit by pitch.

Collectively, the Angels manufactured 11 hits and six walks to obtain their seven runs. This proved too much for the M’s offense, which once again was found wanting.

Eugenio Suarez was the most effective Seattle bat on the night, with a couple of hits and two RBI. While Julio Rodriguez was held hit-less, he still reached base via walks on two of his three at bats, ultimately resulting in a couple of runs.

Missed opportunities

Despite the offense’s struggles so far in 2023, they still could have done more on Monday night. Mariners manager Scott Servais said afterwards:

“Offensively, we had some chances to score a few more runs than we did. You’ve got to take advantage when those guys get on third base with less than two outs. We weren’t able to push an extra run across.”

However, there is no denying the M’s need more of their lineup to start contributing consistently. As Servais said:

“It’s been a struggle here early on. It’s not for lack of trying or lack of effort or preparation. But at the end of the day you’ve got to get it done and we haven’t done it here in the last three of four games. Offensively it has been a challenge.”

More generally speaking, Servais admitted the team as a whole is not happy. He said:

“It’s a little frustrating. Players are frustrated. We all are. We are just capable of playing much better than we are right now.”

Worryingly, it has been a team ‘effort’ resulting in the early season four-game losing streak. Aside from the bats, a defense and bullpen which both proved so reliable last year, have been mistake-prone so far in 2023.

In addition, what is arguably one of the best rotations in the Majors has seen three of their five starters struggle. In this respect, Seattle will now turn to one of their few reliable players to end the losing streak, in Luis Castillo.

Castillo will take to the mound on Tuesday night, aiming to show why he is the staff ace. While it’s still extremely early in the season, the Mariners desperately need him to live up to his reputation.

How confident are you in the Mariners right now? Do you see them coming back from Monday’s loss to take the three-game series against the Angels? Let us know in the comments section below.

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