Mariners bounce back in series finale with 5-2 win versus Cubs

Logan Gilbert leads the charge as the Mariners rebound from three consecutive devastating losses to beat the Cubs on Wednesday afternoon.

After three straight defeats which arguably should have all been wins, you could forgive the Mariners for being demoralized. However, if we’ve learnt nothing else about this ball club the previous two seasons, they have an indomitable mental fortitude.

As such, the M’s managed to salvage something from their three-game trip to Chicago in the series finale, winning 5-2. Leading the charge against the Cubs on Wednesday afternoon was Logan Gilbert.

Gilbert shows his stuff

Gilbert will be the first to admit he wasn’t quite himself in his previous start versus the Guardians. He only last four innings, with his velocity — or lack thereof — being of particular concern.

Against the Cubs however, the 25-year-old was back to top form. He allowed just four hits, a walk and one run in 6.2 innings, while striking out seven.

Fans will have also been relieved to see Gilbert’s velocity return to its best. His only real challenge came in the top of the first, when he allowed his one run courtesy of a Cody Bellinger sacrifice fly.

The 2018 first round draft pick discussed the challenge of the opening inning after the game. He said:

“They were really aggressive out of the gate. I have to give (Cal) Raleigh a ton of credit. He was really creative (behind the plate) in mixing it up, giving them different looks. Since they were aggressive, I tried to be aggressive back and just put it in the zone and challenge them.”

The 2018 first round draft pick was virtually unhittable after this, as he demonstrated superior command. In the process, he picked up his first win of the season.

Another factor which likely played a part, was the better weather in Chicago compared to Gilbert’s last start in Cleveland. He said:

“I did feel better out there. I don’t know what to attribute it to. It’s nice when it’s a little warmer, but I felt like I just simplified things throughout the week during my bullpen. I tried to add a little more tempo. I tried getting things going, moving a little faster and keeping my direction online.”

Mariners bats do their job

Of course, no matter how good your pitching is, you still need some offense in order to win a game. In this respect, the Mariners’ batters were in fine form on Wednesday afternoon.

The top of the order was as reliable as ever. Julio Rodriguez, Ty France and Eugenio Suarez combined for five hits, two RBI and a walk.

However, it was two other batters who got a lot of attention; one who had struggled early and another who is finally living up to expectations. More specifically, Teoscar Hernandez and Jarred Kelenic respectively.

Starting with Hernandez, early on this season he has not looked like the offensive threat Seattle were persuaded to trade for during the offseason. As a result, his batting average was just .184 entering the Cubs series.

However, perhaps inspired by playing at historical Wrigley Field, the two-time Silver Slugger has stepped it up. This was best encapsulated on Wednesday afternoon, as he had a couple of hits and two RBI, including a solo home run.

As a result, Hernandez took his batting average above .200 for the first time all year. Which brings us to Kelenic.

Kelenic finally looking like the real deal

The 23-year-old’s offensive struggles during his first two seasons in the Majors have been well-documented. In fact, he actually regressed from his first to second year.

However, buoyed by an excellent spring training, the optimism was real that Kelenic would finally find his bat. And so it has proved to be, as he entered Wednesday with a six-game hitting streak and home runs in his last two contests.

In the top of the eighth, the 2018 sixth overall draft pick improved his hitting streak to seven games. As a bonus he hit a homer for the third consecutive contest, and it was a monster at 482 feet.

As per Tim Stebbins of, Kelenic’s homer is the longest by a Mariner in the Statcast era, which dates back to 2015. In addition, it is the second-longest hit at Wrigley Field during the same period.

Kelenic spoke to the media about the home run afterwards. He said:

“It felt smooth, felt pretty effortless honestly, and that’s what you want in a swing. I just got a pitch right where I was looking for and was on time for it.”

We appreciate there are still those who need to see Kelenic perform at this level for a longer period, before being convinced. For now though, he appears to be living up to his undouted potential.

Consider that following the Cubs series, the Waukesha, Wisconsin native is first on the Mariners in slugging percentage and OPS. He is also tied for first in home runs, as well as second in batting average and OBP.

Having come up through the ranks with Kelenic, Gilbert is both happy and unsurprised by his team mate’s recent success. He said:

“That’s the Jarred I know and I’ve seen since Low-A … It’s just really fun, because Jarred is just a solid guy, and he deserves the world because he works so hard. What he’s doing, to hit a bomb like that was crazy seeing it off the bat.”

Mariners manager Scott Servais is understandably delighted Kelenic is starting to find his groove with the bat. He said:

“You take a combination of the talent, now he’s understanding how to play the game. When it comes together, big things happen. Not little things, big things happen. And those type of players can do that. He’s in a great spot right now. I’m really, really happy for him.”

A positive conclusion

Overall, as much as three-consecutive losses which could have easily been wins still stings, at least the road trip ended on a positive. As Servais said:

“A nice bounce-back today. We go 3-3 on the road trip, which isn’t that bad. We had some rough losses on this trip, but it will be good to go back home. Guys are starting to feel better about themselves, and we need to have a good homestand.”

This is an understatement, given the M’s went 2-5 in their opening homestand of the year. They will play nine games at T-Mobile Park, starting on Friday with the first of three contests versus the Rockies.

When considering the six-game road trip as a whole, what was your main takeaway? In addition, are you now more hopeful or concerned about the Mariners’ ability to challenge for the playoffs? Let us know in the comments section below.

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