On a day when everything went wrong for the Mariners, it was almost fitting they would lose and allow the Phillies to even the series.
After an impressive win on Tuesday evening in Philadelphia, the Mariners seemed well-placed to take the series versus the Phillies. In the end though, everything that could go wrong, did.
Among other things, Logan Gilbert had his worst outing of the season, while Jarred Kelenic went 0-for-4 after being moved up to third in the lineup. Ultimately, the Mariners collapsed late and lost 6-5 to the Phillies to even the series.
Bad news before the Mariners even play
With hindsight, the omen for a bad day was put in place by the devastating news regarding Robbie Ray. As confirmed pre-game by the Mariners, the pitcher has been lost for the season.
Ray was placed on the injured list following his only start in 2023, with a left flexor tendon strain. It was hoped he would return by the end of May and as recently as last week was saying he felt much better.
However, this was prior to another MRI exam, where the results came back that the 2021 AL Cy Young winner would need season-ending surgery. As Mariners manager Scott Servais said:
“The actual area that he damaged, that (has) been kind of repaired. That (area) had looked cleaned up. That was fine. But he got some new images, and then he was still having some pain down in the elbow area. So they took some more images and that’s what they found.”
Uncertainty in the rotation
It is an understatement to say this is a big blow for Seattle, who are already compromised by Chris Flexen’s struggles in the rotation. Now they will likely be looking for two new starters.
Potential options include Bryce Miller, Emerson Hancock and Tommy Milone, who looked decent enough as a late replacement for Marco Gonzales versus Colorado. Talking about the situation, Servais said:
“We’re kind of working through what’s the best course of action for us – probably more long-term than actual short-term. Again, a lot of discussions are going on. We’ll figure it out going forward.”
The rotation was a source of consistency and durability last year, as not a single start was lost to injury. This year however, there is now some understandable concern.
This situation wasn’t helped by events on Wednesday evening, when Gilbert pitched poorly versus the Phillies. While not expected to be an ongoing issue, his performance didn’t help in light of recent events.
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The 25-year-old didn’t look sharp from the word go, despite having an extra day off since his previous start. He walked the first batter he faced and allowed a two-run homer, to put his team in an early 2-0 hole.
Gilbert was fortunate enough to get some excellent run support almost immediately, in the top of the second inning. Things didn’t start off too well though, as the first two Mariners were retired.
Crawford shows former team what he can do
However, this was subsequently followed by Seattle loading the bases, courtesy of two walks and a single. Next up was J.P. Crawford, with the chance to stick it to the team which drafted him.
Crawford has made no secret of the fact he didn’t enjoy his time in Philadelphia. He said:
“I kind of had some dark times here. I look at it kind of as a sign of how far I’ve come from such a dark place. I didn’t really have the best experience over here. I don’t really feel anything to be back here.”
The 2012 first round draft pick subsequently hit a grand slam home run, the second of his career. Despite hitting well in general this year, it also represented his first homer of the 2023 season.
Julio Rodriguez followed up Crawford’s heroics with a solo home run blast of his own and a 5-2 advantage for Seattle. The scoring hit was a welcome one for Rodriguez, who had struggled offensively in recent games – at least compared to the lofty standards set for him.
Gilbert doesn’t bring his A-game
Following the five-run blitz in the top of the second, Gilbert did find better command but still had his issues. He allowed another two runs and saw his day ended after five innings.
In total, the righty allowed a season-high seven hits, while equaling his season-worst of four earned runs. Seattle will need more consistency from him moving forward, especially given the uncertainty surrounding the rotation.
In this respect it could have been even worse for Gilbert, after he was hit on his leg by a comebacker in the bottom of the third inning. He said:
“It squared me up pretty good, (but) I feel fine right now. I’m sure it will swell up tomorrow and all that, but it could have been worse probably. … I felt like it was coming up the middle quite a bit. I don’t know what that means, but (there were) a couple of (other) close calls out there.”
Servais acknowledged Gilbert didn’t have the best of games. He said:
“Logan starting out had a tough time getting a rhythm in the opening inning. He just didn’t have the typical command we’re used to him having. I thought he settled in okay after that, but not his sharpest outing by any means. The conditions were a little rough out there at the end of his outing.”
With the Mariners leading 5-4 at the end of the fifth, they needed their bats to add some more runs. However, they just couldn’t get going again.
As mentioned already, Kelenic was unable to continue his hot start to the season. It’s only one game, but it will be interesting to see if Servais will keep him third in the lineup.
Phillies finally make Mariners pay
In the bottom of the eighth, Philadelphia finally made Seattle pay for not padding their lead. Four consecutive hits to start the inning resulted in two runs and a 6-5 lead for the Phillies.
The barrage of hits resulted in the Mariners replacing Justin Topa before he could get a single out. In defense of Topa, the two runs allowed were his first in 10 appearances this year.
Seattle did get one last opportunity to at least tie the game in the ninth, courtesy of Crawford’s two-out double. Clearly inspired by playing his former team, it represented his third hit of the evening.
However, with Rodriguez coming up to bat, there would be no repeat of the back-to-back hits Crawford and he had in the second inning. He struck out swinging, to end the game.
Afterwards, Servais lamented the Mariners’ inability to score more runs and take control of the game. He said:
“Certainly, one-run games on the road are tough to hang onto and win. … We needed to add on a little bit more. You have to really slam down the door on the road, but you have to give (Philadelphia) credit. They put the ball in play, found some holes and won the game.”
The Mariners must now attempt to bounce back from the disappointment of another close loss. George Kirby will take the ball for the rubber match on Thursday.
It’s a day of numerous questions. How much will the loss of Ray hurt? Did the Mariners move Kelenic up in the order too soon? Will they be able to win the rubber match in Philadelphia? Let us know in the comments section below.