The Seattle Mariners have scored 23 runs in their past two games, which is one run short of their cumulative run total for the previous seven games combined. Is this new offensive approach here to stay? Who knows. But here’s what we do know: the Mariners just handed the Baltimore Orioles, second place in the AL East with a .608 winning percentage, their worst loss of the season, romping over Kyle Gibson and the Birds 13-1. Everyone grab your NES Zappers and fire them emptily into the sky in celebration.
For the second day in a row, the Mariners executed their hitting plan effectively against a starting pitcher. They had old friend Kyle Gibson on the ropes early, getting traffic on the bases in the first inning with a Ty France parachute-shot single that didn’t turn into anything but set the stage for a second inning explosion where the Mariners offense stacked pitches on Gibson, starting off with a Cal Raleigh line-drive single. Another single off the bat of Kolten Wong (!) pushed Cal to third, and a sacrifice fly from Tom Murphy to culminate an impressive eight-pitch at-bat gave the Mariners an early 1-0 lead. They had the chance to do more damage that inning, loading the bases up for Julio, who struck out, but the Mariners had pushed Gibson to over fifty pitches by the end of that second inning.
They would add on in the third, when Ty France led off with a walk followed by a Teoscar Hernández single up the middle. Cal Raleigh popped out, visibly frustrated with himself, but Eugenio Suárez singled to bring France home. A Wong sac fly would extend the lead to 3-0, and then Tom Murphy decided to put the game a little bit out of reach:
Tom Murphy clears the wall in left field— ROOT SPORTS™ | NW (@ROOTSPORTS_NW) June 24, 2023
5-0 Mariners! pic.twitter.com/l4PbXDTuGy
Yes, you’re reading that chyron correctly: Gibson was at 71 pitches before he surrendered that bomb to Murphy, but the Mariners were able to keep the pressure on even after the home run, with José Caballero working a walk and then a steal, and then Jarred Kelenic struck out but worked a full count before he did, extending Gibson’s pitch count and granting him his earliest exit of the season.
The Mariners offense didn’t let up off the gas after that, with the scorching-hot Teoscar Hernández adding another solo homer against new reliever Logan Gillaspie, who must have been pretty Dizzy after this blast:
And truly, that would have been enough, with Logan Gilbert pitching as well as he did tonight. Gilbert faded his fastball against the Orioles tonight, only throwing it about a third of the time, using his slider almost as heavily as the fastball while mixing in his splitter and curveball around 20% of the time each. To me, this looks the most like the dominant version of Gilbert I saw coming up through the minor leagues, when he was able to continually keep hitters guessing by heavily mixing his pitches while still featuring his bread-and-butter fastball. Postgame, Tom Murphy said he thought Logan Gilbert’s delivery was the best he’d seen all year, and while I think Gilbert was searching for the zone a little early, he locked in as he went along and turned in one of his best performances of the season, featuring an especially sharp slider and curve.
Gilbert would go seven strong innings tonight, giving up just one run on two hits—the one run coming on a solo homer to Anthony Santander, one of his very few mistakes of the night—saving the bullpen, as Justin Topa and Tayler Saucedo each worked low-stress innings to keep the Orioles, led by their offense, to just one run tonight.
Those innings were particularly low-stress because the Mariners offense decided to turn this game into a laugher in the eighth inning, scoring seven runs in the eighth inning through the delightful “death by paper cuts” approach, where they continually kept the line moving against Keegan Akin, sent in with a mop after Cionel Perez had provided two solid innings of relief to piggyback off Gillaspie, who did give up the homer to Teoscar but no other damage in his two innings. Akin...would not be as lucky as his predecessors. He gave up a leadoff double to Suárez, who was moved to third on a Wong groundout. After Murphy lined out, José Caballero walked (#JustCabbyThings) and then the floodgates opened. I could describe it, but you should just watch it rain down for yourself.
(I should also be honest here and say I didn’t watch a ton of this inning because I was also watching the Arkansas Travelers beat the Wichita Wind Surge to earn the first-half championship in the Texas League. Go Travs! Also, I had a fun series of Pride songs that I was going to theme this recap around—using lots of “rain” songs for this inning—but again, distracted by the Travs win.)
So for the second straight night the Mariners won a laugher. Once again they bounced a starting pitcher early, and they were able to build up enough of a lead that the strength of the Orioles’ bullpen didn’t really matter. It’s shades of the Miami series, if you ask me. Can they keep this momentum sustained for the rest of the series? I don’t know, but I suggest anyone who is able to should come to our Growler Guys watch party tomorrow to find out.