Mariners can’t overcome early deficit despite spirited performance from J.P. Crawford as bats go sleepy
Today’s matchup was billed as “Logan Gilbert’s fastball against the Blue Jays’ lineup of fastball hitters” and for the first inning, it looked like Gilbert might come out on top, as he sliced through Toronto’s 1-2-3 hitters in a 14-pitch inning where he threw 12 fastballs, all at 97-98 MPH, and struck out Bo Bichette. Unfortunately, that would be the only easy inning Gilbert would have all day.
The trouble started for Gilbert right away in the second, facing leadoff batter Teoscar Hernández. The Mariners pitching staff kept has been able to keep the slugger mostly under wraps this series, but he had a big day today, starting with this at-bat, when he took a 95 MPH fastball in the middle of the plate over the fence for a home run. Gilbert’s growing pains as a pitcher became readily apparent in this inning; after giving up the homer with two strikes, he got into a nine-pitch battle with Corey Dickerson, unable to put him away with a fastball sliding down the Richter scale to 95-96. Admittedly, HP umpire Tony Randazzo was shaving Gilbert at both the top and bottom of the zone, but behind seven-hole hitter Randal Grichuk 2-0, Gilbert dropped a third consecutive 94 MPH fastball into the fat part of the zone for another homer and a 3-1 Blue Jays lead. And things didn’t get easier from that, as another lengthy battle with nine-hole hitter Santiago Espinal led to an infield single before Gilbert was finally able to get Marcus Semien to pop out on a curveball. It became apparent early on that Gilbert didn’t have command of any of his secondaries, leaving his fastball to be picked apart by the crew of fastball-loving Blue Jays.
The Mariners batters were only able to give Gilbert one lousy run of support, and that came by taking advantage of some shoddy command from Steven Matz in the first, when J.P. Crawford scored on a wild pitch. That meant short inning breaks for Gilbert against a constant barrage of Blue Jays hitters gleefully anticipating his fastball, which continued its steady drop in velocity over subsequent innings. Back-to-back groundball singles in the third and a fielder’s choice put runners at the corners for catcher Alejandro Kirk, who Gilbert initially tried to pitch backwards, starting off with a get-me over curve and a better-looking slider. But both missed, putting him in a 2-0 hole, and Gilbert had to go back to the fastball to steal a strike (on a foul ball at the top of the zone). Another missed slider put Gilbert in danger of walking the bases full, and his next fastball caught too much of the plate, fought off by Kirk for a two-run double. Gilbert would end the inning at 73 high-stress pitches and a 5-1 deficit.
With his pitch count skyrocketing, any trouble in the fourth would assure a shortened day, and the pesky Espinal jamming a base hit into left field pretty much sealed the deal, although Gilbert rebounded to strike out Bichette again, flailing after a slider well off the plate. He also got some help from Dylan Moore, Noted Left Fielder:
(That’s not the first time DMo has helped Gilbert out of a jam with a great diving catch in LF, either; LoGi might consider buying DMo dinner.) Also, regarding that strikeout for Bichette: the Mariners handed Bo Bichette his first-ever
Golden Platinum Sombrero today. Logan Gilbert got him three times, Wyatt Mills once, and Yohan Ramírez got him in the ninth just for good measure. Take that, Bo-with-the-not-good-hair.
There aren’t many bright spots in Logan Gilbert’s outing, but one is that he finally started throwing his curveball (under duress, but still, threw his curveball) and got some called strikes with it. It’s perplexing to me to watch Gilbert, whose secondaries were so good in the minors, have to rely so heavily on his fastball in the bigs. I’m eager for the off-season so he can fine-tune his secondary offerings and figure out how to get more consistency with them at the big-league level.
Tasked with having to cover more than half the game, the Mariners bullpen gave up an additional three runs, although it didn’t much matter what they did, as the offense that burned so brightly last night seemed burnt-out today. One run that did sting: Joe Smith gave up a double to Hernández, who then stole third and scored when Cal Raleigh double-clutched on the throw and then airmailed it over J.P.’s head. It was an odd mental error for Raleigh—I’ve watched him play a lot behind the dish and I’ve never seen such poor decision-making from Cal. Raleigh double-clutched a throw earlier, as well, on a steal where he should have had the runner easily, so maybe that was still in his head, along with the pressure of trying to get strikes for his struggling pitcher in an unfavorable zone. To his credit, Cal did a good job blocking behind the plate, especially as Gilbert tried unsuccessfully to hit the bottom of the zone and wound up spiking sliders that the wall-like Raleigh was able to keep in front of him.
The other two runs for the Blue Jays came in on homers allowed by Yohan Ramírez, whose command remains a work in progress; Ramírez did allow the two homers, but he also didn’t walk anyone and struck out three in two innings, so this outing goes down in the positive column for his development. Wyatt Mills, freed from the prison of the bullpen where he’s been kept since being recalled, was also excellent, allowing a hit in his two innings but no runs or walks and striking out three.
Unfortunately, as noted above, it didn’t matter much what the bullpen was able to do or not do, as the offense was unable to get anything going against Steven Matz despite his poor command (four strikeouts in five innings but also three walks) or the rest of the mostly-subpar Blue Jays bullpen. Kyle Seager provided the lone spark with an eighth-inning two-run shot off Adam Cimber, who will probably be happy to see the Seattle skyline fade in the distance (Haniger had singled off him earlier for his lone hit of the day).
Kyle Seager – Seattle Mariners (26) pic.twitter.com/Eevd7j9L8u
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) August 15, 2021
The Mariners tried to mount a little comeback in the ninth, getting lucky with a ball bouncing off Dickerson’s glove for a two-out “double” for Raleigh and then J.P. Crawford, trying mightily to drag the team into the win column with two hits on the day, battled the flamethrowing Jordan Romano for an 11-pitch walk, but Mitch Haniger—sporting an 82 wRC+ in the month of August—grounded out to Romano to end the game. Womp womp. The Mariners will have a day off tomorrow before they head to the Lone Star State to face the perplexingly difficult-to-solve Texas Rangers.
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