Logan Gilbert flirts with perfection in arguably the best start of his career, but the Mariners bats don’t step up in a loss to the Rangers.
Following a 1-0 loss to the Blue Jays on Apr. 29, we wrote about how unacceptable the offense’s lack of production was. For the second time in three days, the Mariners had wasted stellar pitching by not even notching up a single run in either game.
The bats — which have been inconsistent in general this year — seemed to step it up after that, with 38 runs over the course of the next seven games. However, Monday night saw a return to their frustratingly inept ways, magnified once again after being supported by superior pitching.
Gilbert comes out firing
Logan Gilbert was in a zone for the majority of his outing, throwing a perfect game through six innings. At one point he tied a club record with seven consecutive strikeouts.
Gilbert had 10 strikeouts in all, one short of his career-high. On the season, he has notched at least six strikeouts in each of his first seven starts.
Gilbert was looking as good as he ever had done, as he flirted with perfection. There have only been 23 official perfect games in Major League history, with the most recent being by the Mariners’ own Felix Hernandez on Aug. 15, 2012.
Everything was working for the 26-year-old; his fastball, curveball and slider. Then reality hit, or more specifically the Rangers’ Marcus Semien did, with a lead-off single in the top of the seventh.
At this point, it started to unravel for Gilbert. Following an out, Texas loaded the bases with another single and a walk. They subsequently scored two runs, to take the lead for good.
As a result, Gilbert was removed from the game with one out still remaining in the seventh inning. This takes nothing away from how fantastic he was on the day though.
In all, the 2018 first round draft pick threw 91 pitches in 6.2 innings, with 65 going for strikes. He had just one walk on the day, but would still end up getting the loss due to the uninspired offense by his teammates.
Gilbert was understandably conflicted when discussing his outing with the media afterwards. He said:
“It’s kind of bittersweet. Just trying to find a way to keep the lead there in the seventh in a close game. My stuff felt great. … When it’s a day like today, and you feel like you got your stuff, you don’t want to (give up). Credit to them. They found a way to put up a couple of runs. It’s a tough one, but we’ll go back and learn from it.”
Mariners manager Scott Servais shared his thoughts on Gilbert’s outing. He said:
“With that kind of pitching performance, you certainly expect to win the ballgame. You can’t ask for anything more than what Logan Gilbert did tonight. That’s about as good as we’ve seen him at any point all season long. He absolutely dominated.”
Mariners offense fails to deliver once again
The domination didn’t matter though, with the Mariners managing just the one run. And it came early, courtesy of a Ty France solo blast in the bottom of the first for a 1-0 lead.
On the night, Seattle had just four hits — two of them from Jose Caballero — and didn’t manufacture even one walk. However, they did still have one golden opportunity to build on their early lead, in the fifth inning.
Following singles from Teoscar Hernandez and Caballero, Kolten Wong was hit by a pitch to load the bases with just one out. This brought Julio Rodriguez to the plate, which theoretically should have been a positive.
Unfortunately for Mariners fans, Rodriguez has been struggling of late. He entered the night on a run of just six hits in 12 games, which had seen his batting average dip to .216.
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The 2022 AL Rookie of the Year, pressing to make an impression, swung at the very first pitch, leading to double play to end the inning. By the end of the game he had gone 0-for-4 and seen his batting average dip further, to .210.
As they have done most of the season, the Mariners bullpen kept them in the game after Gilbert’s departure. Trevor Gott and Gabe Speier combined to pitch 2.1 innings, allowing just one hit, no walks or runs, while striking out three.
It all went for naught however, as Seattle lost 2-1. It now takes their record to 4-10 in one-run games in 2023, an area where they excelled in the previous two seasons.
A need to make adjustments
Servais doesn’t like to openly criticize his players, but he sounded unhappy with the offensive production — or lack thereof. He said:
“At a certain time, we’re too easy to pitch to, being frank with it. You have to take something away. Whether they’re getting after us with the breaking ball or certain parts of the plate, they’re attacking it. It’s been a common theme. I often talk about how this game is about adjustments at this level. Once you are struggling a certain way, every team is watching video. They all jump on the wagon at the same time. Now you have to make the adjustment back.”
Servais expanded on what the players need to do. He said:
“Either make an adjustment with your approach and what you’re trying to do with the ball, or don’t swing at it if it’s not in the strike zone. That’s where we’re at. We know that. We have to get better. We will. We have a good offensive team.”
In theory Servais is correct, with the likes of Rodriguez, France, Hernandez, Jarred Kelenic and Eugenio Suazrez. However, it doesn’t change how poor the offense has been collectively to this point of the season.
As of Tuesday morning, the Mariners are tied for 20th in runs scored. They are a lowly 28th in batting average, 24th in OBP, 23rd in slugging percentage and 25th in OPS.
When taking all this into consideration, you could reason it’s a minor miracle Seattle is even within one game of .500, at 17-18. This once again speaks volumes about how outstanding their pitching has been in general.
This team undoubtedly has the talent to be a genuine contender, but as the saying goes, the game isn’t played on paper. The offense needs to step up soon, otherwise the talent will become collectively viewed as unfulfilled potential.
At least the Mariners have an immediate opportunity to get one back against the Rangers on Tuesday night. George Kirby will take the mound, as Seattle attempts to even the series.
What is it going to take for the offense to start producing more consistently moving forward? Or is this going to remain an issue for the Mariners all season? Let us know in the comments section below.
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