Gilbert sparkles again, but Mariners fall short of sweep (2024)

April 29th, 2024

Gilbert sparkles again, but Mariners fall short of sweep (1)

Daniel Kramer

@DKramer_

SEATTLE -- The Mariners received another outstanding starting pitching performance on Sunday afternoon against Arizona, but so did the D-backs. And the difference in Seattle’s 3-2 loss at T-Mobile Park proved to be the club’s struggles to overcome a season-high-tying 15 strikeouts, including a career-high 11 from Brandon Pfaadt.

Logan Gilbert pitched into the seventh inning for his fourth straight start but departed with one out after surrendering consecutive doubles to Joc Pederson and old friend Eugenio Suárez that tied the game at 2. Then, in the eighth, Trent Thornton’s leadoff walk of Kevin Newman came around to score after Ketel Marte, another former Mariner, ripped a two-out RBI double off the right-field wall.

The Mariners went quietly the rest of the way, with each of their final 20 batters going down in order after spoiling their best chance to take a commanding lead way back in the third. In that sequence, they had the bases loaded and no outs, just after Julio Rodríguez ripped a tiebreaking RBI single, but Ty France hit a soft flyout to left and Mitch Garver grounded into a double play.

Gilbert sparkles again, but Mariners fall short of sweep (2)

“It's frustrating, because I thought we were right there,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “But in that game in those moments early in the game, you've got to create some separation and we just weren't able to do that.”

Their lone run production came from another solo homer from Josh Rojas to lead off the bottom of the first inning -- his second of the series to start a game, and against his former team -- and an RBI bloop single in the third from Rodríguez that plated Leo Rivas, who tripled in his first career plate appearance just prior.

Yet, similar to some of their strikeout issues earlier this season, Seattle proved susceptible to spin, with Pfaadt generating six K’s and nine whiffs on his sweeper, which he threw for 40% usage on Sunday, more than any pitch. Seattle now has a .524 OPS this year against sweepers and sliders, third-lowest in MLB.

“Going into the game, we knew he was going to be tough,” Servais said. “He can sink it. He's got a really good sweeper that he can land at any point. The changeup is tough against the lefties. I just thought we had him off his point, so to speak, there in the third inning where he was on the edge.”

It’s worth noting that Servais deployed a lineup without most of his starters, opting for an off-day for Cal Raleigh and Mitch Haniger. Dylan Moore, who’s taken the primary shortstop gig while J.P. Crawford is on the 10-day IL, was also on the bench, with the switch-hitting Rivas installed against the righty Pfaadt. Raleigh, Haniger and Moore wound up pinch-hitting and going a combined 0-for-3.

The bright spots of the day, though, were Gilbert, Rivas and Rojas.

Gilbert had nine strikeouts to ascend into the American League lead, with 44, two ahead of second-place Luis Castillo. He also ranks among AL leaders in ERA (2.03, eighth), innings (40, first), opposing batting average (.163, third) and WHIP (0.80, second).

He again used his blossoming cutter more prominently, for a season-high 32% usage, and held the D-backs 1-for-9 against it, the lone hit being Suárez’s double that ended his day.

“It's been feeling good,” Gilbert said. “We're just kind of going to read it and see what happens. I think it helps the fastball play up. I think it kind of looks like the slider.”

The Mariners are 31-0 when Gilbert receives at least three runs of support while he’s on the mound, and Sunday was a telling encapsulation of that statistic.

“Really wanted to get the sweep today,” Gilbert said. “I feel like we had a good shot there, but we still got the series win.”

Rivas, 26, started at shortstop and immediately saw action with a sky-high pop fly in shallow left, just as the roof was being closed. He made two other impressive plays in the field, too, but the headliner was obviously his first career knock -- especially given that he’d worked his way through the Minors for nine years before being selected from Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday.

“Being honest, man, last night I was so nervous,” Rivas said. “I was more nervous last night than today, being honest. Today, when I got to feel I was like, 'You know what? This is the same baseball that I played when I was a kid, so let's try and keep it that way.'”

Gilbert sparkles again, but Mariners fall short of sweep (2024)
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