SEATTLE – They leave Seattle in the same dismal position as when they arrived last week – disappointed and defeated.
The reset they were hoping to find on this brief seven-game homestand never materialized in the form of wins or performance.
A sunny Wednesday afternoon with Logan Gilbert, their best performing pitcher this season, making the start provided something more than hope for a victory. And with the Phillies calling up lefty Bailey Falter from Triple-A to make a spot start, the Mariners seemed poised to at least end the homestand with a victory and a much-needed series win.
Instead, Gilbert had one costly inning that provided the Phillies all of their runs while Seattle’s offense remained mostly impotent in a 4-2 loss.
The Mariners finished 2-5 over a seven-game homestand that somehow could’ve been worse.
After playing 16 games in 16 days, slogging their way to a 4-12 record in that time, the Mariners will get Thursday off before opening a 10-game, three-city trip to the East Coast with series vs. the Mets, Blue Jays and Red Sox.
“We definitely need to reset,” manager Scott Servais said. “There’s no question.”
But can they do it against the Mets, who were 21-10 coming into Wednesday, followed by the Blue Jays, who are 17-15 but 10-6 at home?
That familiar malaise that seems to follow this team in seasons of expectation cannot be shaken as the 2022 team lists toward a familiar place of irrelevance.
This 16-game stretch has offered a sobering reminder that last season’s success hasn’t carried over to a supposedly improved team.
“There’s been some winnable games,” Servais said. “Whether it’s been one bad inning on the mound or not being able to string good at-bats together, it’s probably been a combination of those two things. But losing is losing, whether it’s close, whether it’s 9-0 or whatever. It doesn’t feel good. I was hoping to win the ballgame today because I did think it was a winnable game for us today with Logan on the hill and kind of where we were at, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
With one mistake pitch in the fourth inning, a 95-mph fastball that was belt-high and on the inner half of the plate, and one vicious swing from Rhys Hoskins in his happy zone, Gilbert allowed almost as many earned runs (four) as he had in his previous six starts this season (five), and it torpedoed his outing and the Mariners’ hope for victory.
Hoskins clubbed the 2-1 fastball over the wall in left field, just inside the foul pole, for his second career grand slam. The Mariners’ 1-0 lead suddenly turned into a 4-1 deficit.
But really, the roots of that problem were in the plate appearances before Hoskins’ homer.
In recent outings, Gilbert has issued more walks than expected or desired. And another momentary lapse of command hurt him in the fourth against the top of the Phillies’ lineup. He allowed a leadoff single to Alec Bohm, walked Bryce Harper, got a flyout from Nicholas Castellanos and then walked Jean Segura to load the bases for Hoskins.
“It was a 10-pitch span where I was off a little,” Gilbert said.
Those 10 pitches out of his 95 thrown changed the game.
“It did, really, one pitch did,” he said.
After walking just one hitter in his first three starts of the season, Gilbert has walked 13 in his past four starts.
To his credit, he came back and struck out the next four batters he faced. He pitched five innings, allowing the four runs on three hits with three walks and nine strikeouts, which tied a career high.
“It’s nice,” he said of the strikeouts. “But my goal is to win. I let up too many runs and walked too many people.”
After Julio Rodriguez drove in Adam Frazier in the third inning with a single to left, the only other run scored came in the seventh. Dylan Moore reached on a walk and later scored on Ty France’s RBI single to right field. But for the 15th time this season, the Mariners failed to score more than three runs in a game. They are now 2-13 in those games.
“I’ve often said you’ve got to win on the road,” Servais said. “You’ve got hit on the road. So we need to pick it up offensively for sure.”