Mariners Takeaways: The good, bad and ugly from series vs Yankees
The Mariners finished their series against the New York Yankees on a high note, winning the series finale 4-0 Thursday afternoon, but they still dropped the series after entering the three-game set on a bit of a tear.
Aside from the last game of the series, not a whole lot went right for the Mariners against the Yankees. Let’s look at the highs and lows from Seattle’s meeting with New York.
The Good: Career day for Logan Gilbert
The Mariners needed a big performance from Logan Gilbert to avoid the sweep, and they got all that and more from the rookie.
In what was no doubt the best start of his young career, Gilbert looked like an ace, tossing seven innings of one-hit ball and striking out eight. It was the first time Gilbert made it through seven innings in his brief MLB career, and the eight strikeouts set a new career high.
Gilbert was on it from the start, retiring the side in order in the first. After allowing a single to Giancarlo Stanton and hitting Luke Voit with a pitch to start the second inning, Gilbert retired the next 18 batters that he faced.
“He came in on the attack and was going to just dominate the strike zone, and that’s exactly what he did today,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said postgame.
Of the 103 pitches Gilbert threw, 97 were fastballs or sliders. That worked extremely well against the Yankees’ right-handed heavy lineup, with Gilbert recording 18 whiffs between those two pitches.
Servais was particularly impressed by the slider.
“I thought it was the best slider we’ve seen him have since he’s been in the big leagues,” Servais said.
Gilbert agreed with Servais’ assessment.
“The feel (for it) was pretty good, especially as I got going in the game,” he said. “In the first couple innings I was still feeling it out, but once I got going I felt I could go to it whenever I needed it.”
As for the fastball, Gilbert had a very good one during the start, averaging 95.6 mph on the pitch (his season average is 94.8, per Statcast). He also touched 99 on an outside fastball to Stanton before striking him out with a slider on the very next pitch.
The Mariners needed Gilbert to play stopper after the Yankees roughed up Seattle’s starters in the first two games of the series (more on that in a moment), and he more than answered the call.
After his dominance of the Yankees, Gilbert is 3-2 with a 3.59 ERA and 52 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings this year.
As 710Sports.com editor Brent Stecker noted on Twitter during the game, Gilbert may be making a case to become the second Mariner in a row to be named American League Rookie of the Year.
I think Adolis García and Randy Arozarena are being joined in the AL Rookie of the Year conversation by one Logan Gilbert.
— Brent Stecker (@BrentStecker) July 8, 2021
Before the game, Servais said that Gilbert has pitched better than he’d hoped for to this point. Even after his great performance, Gilbert isn’t giving himself too much of a pat on the back.
“I don’t think I ever will (meet my expectations),” he said. “I have high expectations, but I’ll take the wins when I can get them along the way whenever that may be. I feel like I’m throwing the ball pretty well right now, but I know what I’m capable of and I’m going to continue to chase that and get better each time out.”
We’ll hear more from Gilbert on his showing against the Yankees and season thus far when he joins 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy at 1 p.m. Friday.
— Curtis Rogers (@AKidFromKent) July 8, 2021
The Bad: Lineup offers little thump
Despite being shut down by Gilbert, the Yankees did plenty of damage to the Mariners this series, showing just why they’re nicknamed the Bronx Bombers.
While that obviously shows some issues with the Mariners’ starting pitching, it also highlighted that the Mariners’ lineup isn’t currently equipped to go toe to toe with dangerous lineups like the one New York fields.
In the three-game series, the Yankees scored 17 runs, with 12 of those coming in the series opener. The Mariners, meanwhile, scored just nine. And in terms of generating hits, the Mariners didn’t do much there, either, tallying only 13 hits during the entire series.
Yes, give some credit to the Yankees’ pitchers, but Jameson Taillon isn’t currently someone who should be spinning one-run starts in seven innings. And in the second game of the series, the Yankees had to go with a bullpen day, and frankly their bullpen hasn’t been that good in 2021. At least in the finale the Mariners did get three runs on two home runs off of starter Jordan Montgomery, but the southpaw managed to throw 6 2/3 innings in the contest.
Something key to note with the Mariners’ bats of late is that the “conductor,” shortstop J.P. Crawford, who has just one hit in his last 14 at-bats. Seattle’s offense has come alive when he’s been leading the charge at the top of the lineup, but he went hitless this series against New York as the Mariners struggled to produce.
The Ugly: The first two starts
The Mariners got knocked down right away in the first two games of this series.
In the opener, the Yankees scored three runs in each of the first and second innings, then added two more in the third. Starter Justus Sheffield allowed the first six runs while recording just five outs, raising his ERA to 6.35 this year. He was placed on the injured list the next day for both a forearm strain and an oblique injury.
It's going to be awhile before we see Sheffield on the hill again. According to Jerry Dipoto on @710ESPNSeattle this am, tests revealed a mild flexor strain and grade 2 oblique strain. "Frankly, from a time perspective the more concerning of the 2 is probably the oblique."
— Shannon Drayer (@shannondrayer) July 8, 2021
In Game 2, All-Star Yusei Kikuchi got roughed up a bit as well. The Yankees scored three runs off Kikuchi in the first inning and then added two more in the second on a long Aaron Judge home run. That was all New York got off of Kikuchi and the Mariners that day, but it was enough to win the game 5-4.
Those rough starts seemingly ended the two games before they really got going, especially as Seattle didn’t bring much offense to the table during the three-game set.
The Mariners will need better overall results at the plate with the Los Angeles Angels coming to town. While Mike Trout is still out of action, the Angels can still put up runs in a hurry, led by MLB home run leader Shohei Ohtani. And don’t sleep on David Fletcher and Brandon Marsh, who are both putting together nice seasons at the plate.