Gilbert wows in matchup with Indians' ace

Rookie allows one run in 6 2/3 as Seattle gets to Bieber again

June 13th, 2021

CLEVELAND -- If this is the that the Mariners will get over the next half-decade and beyond, sign Seattle up.

Gilbert pitched into the seventh inning for the first time in his young career, and even more impressive, he outdueled reigning American League Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber, who had his second shaky start against Seattle this season. That formula paved the way for a 6-2 win on Sunday at Progressive Field.

Gilbert, Seattle’s No. 4 prospect and MLB Pipeline’s No. 27 overall, didn’t surrender a run until there was one out in the sixth inning, when Amed Rosario lined an RBI single to left that scored Bradley Zimmer, who walked then got into scoring position by stealing second base. 

Gilbert came one out shy of finishing the seventh inning and got the hook from Mariners manager Scott Servais after his 92nd pitch, which Harold Ramirez turned into a bloop single into left field on a 1-2 count. The competitive 24-year-old clearly wanted to see the frame through, but Anthony Misiewicz came in and struck out his first batter, Josh Naylor, to preserve Gilbert’s second straight win. 

The towering 6-foot-6 righty finished with just four hits allowed, one walk and six strikeouts. He looked like a much different pitcher than the one who made his MLB debut against this same club exactly one month prior, when he gave up four runs, including two homers, in four frames.

“I felt like it was a lot better,” Gilbert said. “I feel like I've cleaned some stuff up since then and really been able to use other pitches and rely on other pitches versus just trying to show them. So I just feel more well-rounded as a pitcher in general, just being able to go to different pitches.”

Speaking of, it wasn’t just that Gilbert stymied a decent Cleveland lineup, it’s how he did so.

Touted throughout his Minors career for his strike-throwing ability, Gilbert mastered the location of his four-seam fastball on Sunday much better than he had in his first two to three starts, especially at the top of the strike zone, dialing it up to 96.7 mph and sitting at 92.5.

When he's at his best, Gilbert throws his fastball with intent at the top of the zone, as he did on Sunday in Cleveland.

“That's what Logan does,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “He knows who he is. And he gives a lot of success at the top of the strike zone like that, and he stays after it. As players start to get comfortable, you start to see their true ability come out, and that's what we're seeing.”

So good was his fastball that he threw it for 68% of his total usage. And when he did turn to his secondary stuff, it was just as solid, generating nine whiffs on the 29 offerings he threw (an impressive rate of 31%).

“His slider was probably the best I've ever seen,” shortstop said. “It was really fun to play behind. And when he got that confidence, man, he's a really special pitcher. And I feel like that’s going to continue to grow.”

The outing lifted the weight off a tough three-game skid over the last leg of this three-city, 11-day, 10-game road trip. And it came one day after Seattle suffered its most sour loss of the season, which it blew with two outs, two strikes and a three-run lead in the bottom of the ninth. Things again got interesting in the ninth on Sunday, when Kendall Graveman loaded the bases and gave up one run in his first back-to-back outing of the season. But he escaped the jam by inducing a lineout to left.

Gilbert wouldn’t have been in position for his second career win if not for a resilient and resounding performance at the plate from the Mariners’ bats, who tagged Bieber for 10 hits and five runs in 5 2/3 innings -- the most hits and the most runs that the reigning Triple Crown winner has given up all season. In fact, only once in Bieber’s 78 career starts has he given up that many hits and runs in the same outing: Sept. 25, 2019, against the White Sox.

Crawford led the way with a 3-for-5 day, ending Bieber’s outing for the second time this season, following a fifth-inning walk back on May 16 that marked Bieber’s shortest start of the season. Crawford and the Mariners brought that same, patient approach into Sunday’s game.

“Similar to the [approach] that they had in Seattle, I thought I had a little bit better stuff moving into today than I did in that outing,” Bieber said. “Bottom line, it was frustrating today.”

Kyle Seager and Jake Fraley each hit booming homers off Bieber deep into the right-field stands that gave the Mariners plenty of cushion to finish the road trip 4-6. Seager’s homer was also part of a three-hit day.

It wasn’t all positive, though. Fraley was only in the game due to an early exit from Mitch Haniger, who sustained a left knee contusion after hitting a foul ball off himself during the first inning. Seattle’s best player needed to be assisted off the field.