Jake Odorizzi has a K/9 this season of 7.54, which puts him just a little ahead of current Mariner Tyler Anderson on the overall leaderboard, to give you a sense of how whelmed to be by that number. Today against the Mariners, however, Odorizzi’s K/9 was almost 13, as once again Mariners batters flailed and ultimately failed against Odorizzi’s less-than-dastardly 91-92 MPH fastball at the top of the zone combined with his curveball and splitter—which wasn’t particularly spectacular but was plenty effective against the crew of soggy pool noodle-wielding Mariners batters.
The Mariners had a chance to score in the first, when Kyle Seager nicely ensured the Mariners wouldn’t be no-hit when he popped a curveball into right field (if you will recall, last night the no-hit fear persisted until the fourth inning, so we thank Seags for getting that particular fear out of the way quickly today). A Ty France walk moved Seager to second, who then inexplicably tried to score on an Abraham Toro single, and Taylor Jones threw him out. Supposedly Kyle was running faster than the wind, if you believe this tweet, but also, he was running in Baby’s First Ballpark, and was thrown out easily from left.
After that, it was a long string of nothing from the Mariners batters against Odorizzi, with the only batters reaching on walks, and most striking out—eight for Odorizzi, with only one run of damage against him on a solo shot from Mitch Haniger. Please enjoy this lone Mariners highlight of the day:
That’s Haniger’s 28th of the year as he prises the team lead away from Seager. There is not a lot left to be excited about in this season but seeing the race to 30 between Seager and Haniger should make for some fun watching down the stretch.
Logan Gilbert’s final line of nine runs allowed over five innings looks hideous, but truthfully, he pitched better than that line. He made a mistake on his very first pitch of the ballgame, gifting Altuve 96 in the middle of the plate for a hard-hit double; Altuve would come around to score on two more groundouts, but Gilbert did a nice job of mixing his pitches, throwing the changeup and the fastball five times each, while mixing in three sliders and even one curveball. He threw a couple really nice changeups to Brantley, one of the few right-handed hitters in the lineup, and generally was spotting his secondaries in a way he just wasn’t able to in his last outing. Gilbert’s second inning was even better, a tidy 1-2-3, 11-pitch affair, and could have been even faster if a borderline, well-placed slider against Gurriel had been ruled strike three instead of ball one.
Despite pitching much better than his last outing, a few bad pitches in the third inning hurt Gilbert. The thing about the Astros hitters is they will punish every single mistake a pitcher makes, and that includes Triple-A callup Jake Wilson, who managed a triple on 96 middle-middle from Gilbert despite running with the speed and conviction of a runaway bounce house. Jose Altuve, who was doing his best Vlad Guerrero Sr. impression all day, chopped 98 from Gilbert that caught too much of the plate off the mound to score Wilson, and then a walk to Correa where Gilbert threw two good pitches that were both ruled balls to start the at-bat put two on for Yordan Alvarez with two out. Gilbert decided to start Alvarez off with a changeup that unfortunately landed in the middle of the top of the zone, and Alvarez was able to muscle it into the accursed Crawford Boxes. One bad pitch, three runs, and a 5-0 lead for the Astros.
Gilbert would give up another run in the fourth on a solo home run to Taylor Jones, again missing his spot with an 82 MPH slider that wound up too much in the middle of the plate, but was able to limit the damage from there and even landed the curveball for a couple of strikes, which is encouraging. As we saw in his last outing, Gilbert was throwing two distinct sliders: one in the 81-83 range, and one in the 86-88 range. I’m starting to suspect that harder slider is actually a cutter that’s being mislabeled by Gameday, as it consistently lands higher in the zone, more where a traditional cutter would end up.
That same hard slider at 86 got a swinging strike from Altuve to start off the fifth, but then Gilbert tried to go to it again and Altuve was able to tattoo it for a double. A changeup to Brantley that caught too much of the plate scored Altuve for the Astros’ seventh run on the day. Gilbert was able to get the next two outs, including striking out Alvarez on that hard slider, but wasn’t able to get Yuli Gurriel, who took that same slider for a hard single. When Gilbert gets into scrapes, he drops the rest of his arsenal and just throws the fastball and slider, and this harder slider just doesn’t seem to have the same swing-and-miss as his more tilty, slower version, although it does seem to be a more effective weapon to get ground balls—Gilbert had five groundouts today compared to just three flyouts, which is inverse of his normal distribution, and three of those groundouts came on the hard slider in the fourth, plus a lineout in the second (although two hits also resulted off it: a single and a double). Gilbert was able to rack up five strikeouts in just 4.2 innings: three on the fastball and two on the hard slider.
The Gurriel single ended Gilbert’s day as his pitch count was up in the 90s. Robert Dugger then came in and...things did not go well. Gilbert got charged for an additional two runs, for nine total, as both inherited runners scored when Dugger gave up back-to-back hits, a double and a single to the terrifying duo of Taylor Jones and Jake Meyers. After that, it was all self-inflicted damage for Dugger, who gave up another two runs of his own in that inning, plus another three in the sixth. I lost count tallying the runs after 12 but Gameday informs me the final score of this game was 15-1, which is frankly embarrassing.
There probably isn’t a worse mismatch for the 2021 Mariners, who win one-run games on clutchiness and pixie dust and chaos, than the Astros, who win games with things like “competent hitting” and “no really, all our guys can hit.” With their powerful lineup and capable pitching staff, there’s no team that is better equipped to show these Wild Card-hopeful Mariners have no clothes, and that’s a very sour realization, but a necessary one, nonetheless.