Logan Gilbert tried not to let it show that the trade rumors at the deadline were weighing on him, but he was relieved when the deadline passed without a deal. (Full disclosure: Logan is one of my favorite Mariners and those rumors weighed on me, too. During a post-deadline media scrum, I saw Logan passing by and shot him a little thumbs up and mouthed “yay”; he responded by miming wiping his brow while exhaling in relief.) After a somewhat bumpy start against Boston immediately following the deadline, where the Mariners secured a win despite Gilbert fighting with his command some and only lasting five innings, he returned to the bump tonight with a dominant, signature performance, one-hitting the Padres over seven shutout innings with a career-high 12 strikeouts.
The Walter jumped out early today, with Gilbert working a dominant first inning with two strikeouts, one on the slider to Ha-Seong Kim and one on the splitter to Juan Soto. He also worked around an infield hit by Xander Bogaerts in the second that’s going to earn Dylan Moore a little extra Perry Hill time, winning a long, seven-pitch battle with Jake Cronenworth by striking him out on the slider and getting Gary Sánchez to ground out on the same pitch. Gilbert dusted the bottom third of the Padres order 1-2-3 with another two strikeouts (this time getting Grisham chasing a fastball before striking out Kim on a splitter) to turn the lineup over, bringing up Tatís Jr. and setting up Julio Rodríguez to do the coolest thing you’ve ever seen:
Julio Rodríguez goes full Cheshire Cat on Fernando Tatis Jr. with this home run robbery.— Daniel Kramer (@DKramer_) August 9, 2023
What a play. pic.twitter.com/qQxFevza1X
Julio acknowledged postgame that he and Tatís are friends from back in the DR, which helped him have a little fun with the play. “Over there [in the DR], we definitely play a little more free, just like, doing us, just play, have fun. Just have fun, bring a little bit of joy to the game. I think it’s pretty good for it.”
That wouldn’t even be the only outstanding outfield catch Julio made tonight, as he effortlessly ranged left, right, back, and forth like a souped-up joystick where balls hit by the Padres were the asteroids and he was the blaster. Postgame his skipper praised his work in the outfield as “about as good as I’ve ever seen.”
Not only was that whole sequence incredibly, impossibly cool, it was also important, as it kept a run off the board while the Mariners offense continued to scuffle.
The 2023 Mariners and stranding runners, name a
better worse duo. The Mariners had runners at the corners in the first inning with no outs. They did not score. This was partly because Julio would be thrown out trying to test Gary Sánchez’s throwing arm—not a bad idea, but Sánchez seems to have improved his skillset behind the plate, as he made two good throws on attempted Mariners steals. The second time would come in the second, when Dominic Canzone doubled and then stole third; Sánchez made a good throw but Machado dropped the ball, but it wouldn’t matter because the Mariners once again would not score. They left J.P. at second again in the third, each time allowing Padres opener Nick Martinez to wiggle out of damage.
They’d continue to struggle against the parade of Padres relievers. In the fourth, with Scott Barlow and his 1980s carwash hair on the mound, Canzone grounded into a double play, wiping out a Ty France single. They finally got a run after bouncing Barlow in the fifth and bringing on former Mariner prospect Ray Kerr, who throws very hard without command; they allowed him to escape with just a run, in the most 2023 Mariners offense way possible: a bases-loaded pitch timer violation that sent Cal Raleigh to first and scored Dylan Moore, who had walked on four pitches and ended Barlow’s day. (Fun fact: I initially mispelled “Barlow” as “Barlowe” every time in this article, probably as a silent plea to get Cade Marlowe some more playing time.)
The Mariners finally got a non-gift run in the sixth, when Dylan Moore hit an RBI “triple” with a hefty dose of assistance from Trent Grisham, scoring Tom Murphy, who had hit a two-out single. Tom Murphy and Dylan Moore, the powerhouse of the Mariners lineup, just as I’ve always said.
RBI triple for Dylan Moore— ROOT SPORTS™ | NW (@ROOTSPORTS_NW) August 9, 2023
Mariners lead 2-0! pic.twitter.com/KhntyNQgyZ
But it turns out, the Mariners wouldn’t even need that non-gift-run, because Logan “Walter” Gilbert and the rest of the pitching staff held the Padres off the board. Gilbert deployed his splitter to great effect tonight; he threw it 20 times and the Padres didn’t put it in play once, fouling it off five times and whiffing at it four times. Between that and the slider, which had a spectacular 50% CSW% tonight, it’s helped Gilbert’s fastball play up. Tonight Gilbert averaged over 96 mph on his fastball, something Scott Servais credits to the hard work Gilbert puts in every day, including in the weight room, where he’s gotten bigger and stronger over his time in the bigs, taking the Mariners’ mantra to “get 1% better every day” to heart (mathematicians in the crowd, please hold your comments).
With the noise of the trade deadline fading into the far distance, Gilbert is able to focus on doing what he does best: pitching.
“I love it,” said Gilbert postgame. “This is my favorite time of year. It’s just baseball. Every game matters. Everything’s on the line.”
Servais was dismissive of the trade rumors that had swirled around his young starter leading up to the trade deadline.
“We are built on pitching. We’re always gonna be built on pitching. The fact that we have young guys that continue to grow and get better—we’re not trading these dudes away. No. Can’t do it. That’s why we’re in the position we’re in.”
For Gilbert, it’s a relief to be able to just focus on baseball going forward, knowing his place in Seattle is secured as the post-season chase heats up.
“It’s just a ton of fun, and it’ll be even more fun as we keep getting down to the wire here.”