Mariners ride bats, Gilbert to most complete win of '22

May 29th, 2022

SEATTLE -- If Friday was the Mariners’ most significant win of the season, then Saturday’s was their most complete. 

Each of their nine in the lineup had a hit for just the second time in 47 games. Their starting pitcher threw seven scoreless innings, a first for any on Seattle’s staff this season. And the beleaguered bullpen pushed the Mariners to the finish line as part of the club’s first shutout of an opponent this season.

It all led to a 6-0 win over first-place Houston, and, all of a sudden, after a month-plus spiral, the Mariners are on their first win streak since April 26 and have dug out of last place in the AL West.

For as frustrating as its MLB-worst 8-21 stretch was dating back to its most recent back-to-back victories, Seattle has preached an insular, day-to-day approach to getting back to .500, and it’s begun with its first series win since taking two of three against the Mets two weekends ago.

“I'm impressed with the group and the fact that they understand it's time to turn up the dial a little bit, intensity-wise,” manager Scott Servais said, “and they have against one of the best teams in the league, which is nice to see. We needed it.”

Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s dominant victory:

1. Gilbert wows in big way
Logan Gilbert continued his dominant sophomore season by stymying Houston and clearing seven innings for the third start in a row. He limited the Astros to just four hits with five strikeouts. More impressive was that he seemed to get better as the game went on, retiring each of his final 11 while pumping 97 mph in his final frame. And he admittedly didn’t have his best fastball command, yet still walked none.

“I think getting good counts, getting ahead,” Gilbert explained. “That's one of the main things, and if I walk people, then I might be a little bit off, so I think that's a big indicator for me -- that I can just stay in good counts.”

Beyond representing continued growth for the 25-year-old, it was a benchmark in the context of the opponent. Gilbert was bullied to a 7.07 ERA in three starts during his rookie year against the Astros, who put up a slash line of .295/.318/.541 (.859 OPS) against him. He’s going to see them regularly throughout his career. 

“They’re a good team, and you always want to beat good teams like that,” Gilbert said. “But I try not to make it about other people, just myself, do what I do, and know that if we stick to the plan and execute like we should, then good things happen.”

2. Every hitter chips in
Each batter connected and reached against Astros starter José Urquidy, with the most notable contribution from Kyle Lewis via a 420-foot solo homer, his second in as many days. Despite his recovery from knee surgery, Lewis nonetheless returned as an unknown -- yet he’s already made a reeling lineup longer.

“He brings more fear to our lineup,” Ty France said. “We’ve got a good one-through-nine, and having him back, it just helps all of us, honestly. We know we’ve got another guy that can go out and at any moment do damage.”

Speaking of France, he extended his hit streak to 10 games and had a critical, two-run single on a delayed hack against a 76.7 mph curveball from Urquidy. It was textbook France -- an unflashy-but-effective swing in which he was fooled on the pitch out of hand but kept his bat in the zone long enough to put it in play.

“It's crazy what he can do,” Servais remarked. “He really puts his body in interesting positions. He has the ability, I call it ‘riding out balls.’ It's the one that he’s just out front, his timing is off, but he can keep the bat on plane as long as anybody in the league.”

Jesse Winker, J.P. Crawford and Eugenio Suárez each contributed with RBIs as well, as the Mariners tallied 13 hits for just the fourth time all season.

3. One day at a time
Though the players have been mostly level-headed in a tough May, their urgency was high entering this series, and it seems to have had an effect. The Mariners had lost seven times following a win since their most recent win streak, and, meanwhile, the Astros hadn’t lost back-to-back games since May 1, having gone an MLB-best 18-6 since. Yet after this productive weekend, the Mariners have evened the season series at 4-4.

Seattle will still need to figure out how to win in Houston, where the club is 4-26 since the start of 2019, but that challenge is for another day.

“We've been capable of this all year and it's finally coming together,” France said. “I told you guys before we were close, and I think these last few days showed what kind of team we really are.”