The Mariners continue to struggle in close games and ultimately come up short on Tuesday night in 6-5 loss, as the Brewers win the series.
If there was one thing which stood out for the Mariners last season, it was their ability to come through in close ball games. It was this trademark which contributed to finally ending their 21-year playoff drought.
Consider that the M’s had a remarkable 34-22 record in one-run games during 2022. This was good enough to lead the Majors.
Further, Seattle also led the Majors in one-run wins a year earlier. There were many who reasoned this formula for success was not sustainable on a long-term basis.
It’s still early in the 2023 campaign, but the initial signs point towards this rationale finally coming true. The latest example of this happened on Tuesday night, as the Mariners lost 6-5 to the Brewers in extra innings.
With the loss, the M’s dropped to 2-5 on the year in one-run games. In addition they fell to 0-4 in 2023 in extra innings games, another area where they had been best in the Majors the two previous seasons.
Mariners manager Scott Servais was at a loss to explain why this year has so far been different. Speaking to the media after the game, he said:
“I wish I had a special magic potion to throw everybody when it turns into extra innings. We’ve been really good at finding a way to move the runners along or getting the big hit in those games. And so far early this year, we’ve struggled to do that.”
Gilbert has a mixed night
Something else which didn’t help, was an uneven performance from Logan Gilbert. On the one hand, he struck out eight and allowed no walks in 6.0 innings of action.
On the other hand however, Gilbert gave up five hits and four earned runs. He just hasn’t looked as consistent as hoped/expected, with just two quality outings in four starts so far during 2023.
Milwaukee got to the 25-year-old early, with a leadoff solo homer in the top of the first. They added another two runs in the top of the third, for a 3-0 advantage.
Seattle woke up in the bottom of the inning, to come storming back into the game. After the struggling Kolten Wong flied out, they loaded the bases.
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Cal Raleigh came to the plate and subsequently hit a two-RBI double, to get the M’s to within 3-2. They then tied the game, courtesy of a Teoscar Hernandez sacrifice fly which brought Eugenio Suarez home.
Next up was Tommy La Stalla, who singled to score Raleigh and give the Mariners their first lead of the night. La Stalla’s hit also represented the first RBI by a Designated Hitter this season, at a position where Seattle has had the worst production in the Majors.
The scoring flurry by the Mariners seemed to settle Gilbert down. However, he allowed another solo homer in the top of the sixth, to tie the game at 4-4.
The fiercely competitive righty held his hand up, when discussing his outing with the media. He said:
“A couple of mistakes for sure, to a couple of their good batters. Things you just can’t do. I’ve got to put them in better spots.”
Servais acknowledged Milwaukee had an excellent game plan for dealing with Gilbert. He said:
“They had a very good approach against Logan early on. It was clear they weren’t going to offer at many of his off-speed pitches he was throwing early.”
Mariners bats are up and down
Another trademark of the M’s year to date, has been a lack of consistency. And nowhere have they lacked more consistency than with their bats.
Consider that following the four-run barrage Seattle did not manage a hit for 22 plate appearances, as the game went into extra innings. The only way they were able to reach base was via two walks and then the automatic runner in the 10th.
The Brewers had retaken the lead at 5-4 in the top of the 10th. In the bottom of the inning, the Mariners had an excellent chance to actually win the game.
First up, Ty France hit a one-out sacrifice fly to bring Wong home and tie the game again, at 5-5. Then, consecutive singles by Suarez and Raleigh put the pressure on the Brewers.
Unfortunately for the Mariners though, Hernandez could not take advantage of the two runners on base as he struck out. The crowd of 18,206 would be forced to endure at least one more inning in the cool confines of T-Mobile Park.
Milwaukee regained the lead at 6-5 in the top of the 11th, putting the pressure firmly back onto Seattle. However, the home side managed to put themselves in position to steal the win by loading the bases, albeit with two outs.
If there was any player who fans would want to see at the plate under such circumstances, it’s Julio Rodriguez. As he repeatedly showed last year, he is built for the big stage.
The truth is though, that even Rodriguez hasn’t been quite like himself of late. In this respect, his subsequent ground ball hit was well-handled and thrown to second base for the game’s final out.
For the second consecutive night, Servais had to concede Milwaukee was the better team. He said:
“They’ve got a good club. They shut us down there. We’ve done that to teams in the past as well, but you need to find a way to create a little bit more offense there. … They made the big pitches. They situationally pitched very well, just well enough to win it.”
With the loss, the Mariners dropped to 8-10 on the season. Yes it’s early, but there will still be fans who are at least slightly concerned.
In this respect, it’s important to remember Seattle was 10 games under .500 at one point last year, with a record of 29-39. However, they then embarked on a 14-game winning streak and never looked back.
Gilbert aimed to reassure fans, when referencing the panic that surrounded last year’s early struggles. He said:
“It might have been May, but it just seemed like we weren’t playing well. But even at that time, I don’t know what it was, but I was super confident in the team and I knew it wasn’t far off. … I think we’re really close to playing good ball and I think it’s going to come around here.”
Next up, the Mariners will try to salvage something against the Brewers in the series finale. Fresh off the birth of his second child, Marco Gonzales will take the mound on Wednesday afternoon.
What was your main takeaway from Tuesday night’s loss? What is your prediction for the series finale? Will the Mariners win, or get swept by the Brewers? Let us know in the comments section below.