Mariners sweep Padres series behind two pitching gems

Logan Gilbert has a career game while Emerson Hancock looks strong in his Major League debut, as the Mariners remain firmly in the playoff race.

The Mariners are rolling in every conceivable way, as they’ve finally removed any doubts about their talent. They are finally playing like the team that president Jerry Dipoto envisioned prior to the season, i.e. a genuine World Series contender.

Since their lowest point of the year, the Mariners have won nine and tied one of their past 11 series. They have the best record in the Majors since the beginning of July, at 24-10.

The Mariners are also on a Major League-best active winning streak of seven games. As a result of all this, they now find themselves at 62-52 and within 2.0 games (and just one loss) of the Blue Jays, for the final AL wild card spot.

It’s been a delight to behold, especially after such an underwhelming trade deadline. Spurred on by a perceived slight from the front office, the Mariners can currently do no wrong.

Leading this effort, is one of the very best pitching staffs in all of baseball, both starters and relievers combined. As of Thursday morning, the Mariners are ranked second in ERA, first in WHIP and tied-third in batting average.

Gilbert with a sublime outing

The quality of the pitching was firmly on display during the Padres series, resulting in two wins and a series sweep. And leading the way were a couple of excellent starts, by Logan Gilbert and Emerson Hancock respectively.

Beginning with Gilbert, he had a career outing on Tuesday night when it was needed most. While the Mariners did manage nine hits, they only scored two runs.

Gilbert was quite simply sensational in a 2-0 win. He forced 15 swinging strikes, on the way to a career-high 12 strikeouts.

The 26-year-old allowed no walks and just the one hit on the day – a single in the second inning. However, the runner never advanced past first base.

Gilbert managed the ideal mix of his four pitches, as he won his fifth consecutive decision. Speaking about his performance postgame, Mariners manager Scott Servais said:

“Pitching and defense wins a lot of games, and we are witnessing some awesome pitching right now. Logan took it to another level tonight against a really formidable lineup. It doesn’t get much better.”

To give some context for how special Gilbert’s performance was, he’s just the second pitcher in club history to have one or fewer hits, zero walks and 10+ strikeouts in a start. The other was Felix Hernandez’s perfect game.

The righty was asked about his career-high in strikeouts. He said:

“It’s pretty cool. I didn’t even know until after. I didn’t know I was at 12 or whatever it is. It’s just a lot of practice and good execution and everything coming together.”

Bullpen and defense secure the win

Complimenting Gilbert’s effort, was a fine bullpen effort. Matt Brash and Andres Munoz both pitched an inning, limiting the Padres to one hit each to preserve the shutout.

Further helping the Mariners, was an excellent performance from Julio Rodriguez in center field. He made three sterling defensive plays, including robbing what seemed to be a certain home run in the top of the fourth.

Servais heaped heavy praise on Rodriguez, comparing him to Ken Griffey Jr. He said:

“He’s just a special talent. We’ve been spoiled here in Seattle. There was another center fielder here for a long, long time that could do those types of things.”

A promising debut

Turning to Wednesday evening, there was a lot of hype surrounding Emerson Hancock’s Major League debut. Considering all the young pitching talent on the team, there’s a belief he’s actually the best of the lot.

Things didn’t start off too well however, as he walked the first batter he faced, who subsequently stole second and third base. The runner then came home for a 1-0 lead, after a bit of indecision from Hancock.

The 24-year-old wasn’t sure if he could make a play at home plate, so instead threw to first for the safe out. Speaking about the moment postgame he said:

“I just couldn’t see (the) break. I saw the ball was kind of slower. If it had been a little bit quicker, maybe. (However), it’s the first inning. Just take the run, get the out and go on from there.”

In fairness to Hancock, he overcame the shaky start and looked good the rest of the way. He pitched four scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and a couple of walks in the process.

In total, the righty threw 87 pitches over 5.0 innings. He allowed just the two hits, three walks and one run, while striking out three.

Hancock discussed how things calmed down as his outing progressed. He said:

“I was just trying to slow things down, trying to find a rhythm, trying to get things going. Once we got to about the third inning, that’s when it just felt like pitching again, things slowed down. You’re just doing what you always do and go from there.”

Mariners bullpen steps up again

With the Mariners struggling to put runs on the board for the second consecutive game, their bullpen kept them in the game at 1-1. The relievers combined to pitch 4.0 innings, allowing just two hits and two walks, while giving up no runs.

The offense finally woke up in the bottom of the eight, scoring five runs and all but putting the game out of reach at 6-1. The Mariners finished with 10 hits, including Cal Raleigh’s two-run homer which put them ahead for good, at 3-1.

Servais had no doubt it was a home run when Raleigh made contact. He said:

“It’s the Big Dumper, man. It was a no-doubter. He hits it, the finish is up high, he looks to the dugout. Like I said, we’ve seen that before.”

The only downside on the night, was J.P. Crawford having to leave the game shortly after an accidental collision with teammate Eugenio Suarez. He’ll undergo tests for possible concussion and the Mariners will understandably hope it’s nothing serious.

Thursday gives the Mariners the bonus of a second day off this week. Then, they face a big test in hosting a three-game series versus the Orioles, who have the best record in the AL.

What impressed you most about Hancock’s Major League debut? What are you expecting from him moving forward in the short term, as the Mariners continue their pursuit of a playoff spot? Let us know in the comments section below.

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