By the time the dust settled in T-Mobile Park, the New York Yankees had made a statement, somewhat different than the flag the Seattle Mariners planted in Yankee Stadium last week. Playing far from their best game, the Yankees nonetheless trounced a Seattle club that put up a middling performance. On a different night, against a lesser opponent, Seattle might easily have squeaked out a victory. They did that exact thing last week in their first victory of that previous three-game set, playing well enough against the sloppiest of New York’s finest, stealing a victory they probably did not “deserve”. But Monday night, Seattle’s mediocre met New York’s average, and the result was absolutely grisly.
It went awry quickly, with Logan Gilbert putting up what was in my estimation a reasonable outing that was not nearly enough to outdo the Yankees’ unrelenting lineup. Even without Giancarlo Stanton and Harrison Bader, New York’s row is capable of plenty of felonies, including punishing Gilbert for every mistake he made. Seattle’s 25-year-old righty was not stellar, by any means, but the more middling feel for his slider Monday night was absolute doom against these Yankees in a way most lineups might not have been able to capitalize. In the top of the third, for instance, when Gilbert fell behind 3B Josh Donaldson, he pumped a 97.4 mph fastball on the inner third. The pitch was easy to expect, sure, but 97 and change is such that Gilbert can often get a foul ball or dodge a barrel, even in hitter’s counts. No such luck this evening, and the ball left the yard.
The same to the next batter, Gleyber Torres, as Gilbert pounded the bottom outer third of the zone with curves and sliders. Finally, a fastball to attempt to power past the be-heeled Torres. No dice.
Breaking ball to Andrew Benintendi at the knees outer third? RBI double.
A few innings later, breaking balls to Donaldson lead to a double all the same, before yet another battle with Torres ended in a well-spotted slider finding outfield grass.
Gilbert caught a lot of the plate at times throughout the night, but that is part of what makes him successful oftentimes. He is a power pitcher with quality stuff, but he does not give away plate appearances by free passes often. At his best, that makes for dominant outings with uncanny efficiency. Against the best hitting team in baseball, tonight it meant a lopsided loss.
Therein, again, the gap between Seattle and their opponent was laid bare. The Yankees are a 100-win team because their lineup is one that consistently punishes each mistake, whereas Seattle does so better than most, but still more intermittently. Mitch Haniger’s 100th home run as a Seattle Mariner was cause for celebration, as was his three-hit day, but the club’s primary threat came in the 4th inning and yielded one run on a bases-loaded walk by J.P. Crawford. It was a sensational plate appearance for Crawford, for what it’s worth, as the M’s shortstop fouled off five two-strike offerings, all in the zone, before finally pushing Taillon off the plate for a free pass. Had Cal Raleigh’s first pitch ambush of a cutter hewed just 10 feet to the north, Seattle would’ve secured a 6-4 lead they might have defended more aggressively. Instead, the 9-4 final score reflects a solid effort by the offense against the best of New York’s bullpen and one of their more average starters, and what a gap remains between Seattle’s ability to cruise to victory and that of the cream of the American League.