Logan Gilbert of the Seattle Mariners throws a pitch during the second inning against the Texas Rangers at T-Mobile Park on June 16, 2024, in Seattle, Washington. (Alika Jenner / Getty Images)

Logan Gilbert of the Seattle Mariners throws a pitch during the second inning against the Texas Rangers at T-Mobile Park on June 16, 2024, in Seattle, Washington. (Alika Jenner / Getty Images)

Mariners week: Gilbert’s brilliance lifts Seattle to sweep

Seattle’s 8 1/2-game lead in the AL West is its largest since the 2001 season.

  • Tyler Wicke, The News Tribune
  • Monday, June 17, 2024 9:20am
  • SportsMariners

Inside the friendly confines of T-Mobile Park, Seattle pitchers routinely shift into a new gear.

For starters and relievers alike, the numbers are undeniable. The Mariners have the best home ERA (2.60) and WHIP (0.940) in baseball, walk the fewest hitters (78), and own the most home wins in the American League (27).

It’s why Logan Gilbert’s brilliant, eight shutout innings on a sold-out Father’s Day was all the more foreseeable.

Gilbert was superb on a Sunday afternoon, allowing Seattle to celebrate a three-game sweep of the reigning World Series-champion Texas Rangers, the divisional foe that could have regained precious ground in the standings. Instead, the Mariners stomped them further down the ladder and extended a season-high lead in the AL West to 8 1/2 games.

Seattle’s towering, 6-foot-6 right-hander mixed five pitches to perfection, working ahead with painted fastballs paired with a standout slider that induced silly swings in the dust. Gilbert fanned nine without a walk for his Seattle-best 12th quality start, surrendering just two hits in eight frames with a depleted bullpen behind him.

Aided by Luke Raley’s fourth-inning RBI double, Tyler Locklear’s seventh-inning solo homer, and ample insurance in the final frames, Gilbert provided an early off-day for much of the bullpen and cruised to Sunday’s 5-0 win, improving the Mariners to a season-high 12 games over .500 (43-31).

“That was fantastic,” manager Scott Servais said. “(Logan was) in total control of the ballgame and had great stuff, of course, but the execution of the slider and split-finger was electric today.

“I hope everybody appreciates it as much as I do and our pitching coaches do, because that’s really hard to do.”

Seattle’s third series sweep this season was, undoubtedly, its biggest.

Since May 26, the Mariners are 16-5, the best record in baseball during that span. And they are 23-6 at T-Mobile Park since April 15, the best home mark in the American League.

It’s the largest division lead — and the first time the Mariners have won nine consecutive home series in a campaign — since their record-breaking 116-win season in 2001.

“To have a sweep, especially at home? It’s a good feeling,” Gilbert said. “When everybody’s doing their job, we’re definitely at our best, and that’s what it looked like today.”

And what a difference Julio Rodriguez could make if this extended hitting stretch continues. The J-Rod Show sparked Seattle’s 7-5 win in Saturday’s middle game with a third-inning, two-run smash to left center off Texas righty Nathan Eovaldi and, entering Sunday’s finale he had slashed .278/.350/.463 in the month of June.

Rodriguez’s bat continues to warm up with the weather, like it did in his rookie and sophomore seasons from 2022-23. The career .238 hitter between the months of March and April ignited those numbers to .316 in July and August across his first two campaigns — a promising sign Seattle’s franchise center fielder is again turning a pivotal corner.

“Julio is at his best when he’s playing free,” Servais said. “Not thinking too much. Just letting his abilities take over, and being super competitive, and that’s what we’re seeing right now.

“He is competing his tail off. That’s what it takes.”

The Mariners own a 78.8% chance to win the AL West, per FanGraphs, the highest chance to win a division among American League clubs. Seattle has an 86.2% chance to make the playoffs and a 6.1% chance to win the World Series.

Raleigh, fans shave heads at ‘Buhner Buzz’

The Mariners teased the question in the days leading up to the first Buhner Buzz Night since 2001 — which current player would make their surprise entrance and receive a shaved head from Jay Buhner himself?

Three decades after Seattle launched the “iconic promotion” featuring its famously bald right fielder, Buhner returned to Victory Hall next door to T-Mobile Park for the revival of Buhner Buzz Night. And it was only fitting that catcher Cal Raleigh was Thursday’s featured volunteer, just three days removed from demolishing a heroic, walk-off grand slam over the White Sox.

“They did a little (promotion) tonight — buzz cuts by Jay Buhner here at the yard,” Raleigh told MLB Network. “I volunteered to get the cut. It’s a little shorter than I thought it’d be, but (Jay) told me there were some hits in it… I said, I’ll do anything for a few knocks.”

Freshly-shaved fans (and those who arrived bald) received a free ticket and Buhner-themed shirt for Thursday night’s series finale with the White Sox, a 3-2 loss in extras. But it wasn’t before 620 fans snagged a free seat and 437 buzzed their heads.

“It’s a big deal around here,” Raleigh said. (Jay’s) a legend. Great player, great person. We should bring it back. It’s a really cool thing for the fans, the community around here.”

Rojas picking it at third

Third baseman Josh Rojas is quietly enjoying one of the sport’s better defensive campaigns at the position. He leads all qualified third baseman with nine outs above average, per Baseball Savant, the continuation of stellar Seattle defense at the ‘Hot Corner’ despite the offseason departure of Eugenio Suarez.

“I always want to be a utility guy,” Rojas said Saturday. “I want the manager to be able to feel like he can use me anywhere on defense.

“But right now, I’m a third baseman, and I feel pretty good over there.”

Consistent, pregame work from third base and guidance from infield coach Perry Hill rewards Rojas with some of the best defensive metrics in baseball — including seven prevented runs.

“I think he’s one of the best defensive third basemen in the league,” Servais said. “We’ve been spoiled here with outstanding defensive play at third base, but Josh is right up there with (Kyle) Seager and what we saw from Geno (Suarez) for a couple of years here. He has been fantastic.”

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

From left to right: Arlington’s Kierra Reese and Stanwood’s Ellalee Wortham, Ava DePew and Presley Harris. The foursome, called “Awesome Mix 12,” won the High School Elite division in 2023 and returned to Spokane Hoopfest this year to claim the Women’s Competitive division title. (Photo courtesy Sarah Reese)
Winter Wesco rivals, summer hoopfest champions

Arlington’s Kierra Reese and Stanwood’s Ava DePew, Presley Harris and Ellalee Wortham teamed up to win back-to-back 3-on-3 titles.

UW Husky rowing will be well-represented in Paris at 2024 Olympics

The U.S. eight competes in heat racing on July 29 with finals on Aug. 3.

Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson (20) skates with the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game against the Flames at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Ellen Schmidt / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Chandler Stephenson’s deal about broader Kraken goals rather than dollar value

The former Golden Knights centerman signed a seven-year deal for $6.25 million with Seattle last week.

Chandler Fry makes a short birdie putt on Hole 6 on Kayak Point Disc Golf Resort’s Red Course. Fry is a professional from Olympia, Wash., and he has tallied 31 career wins. He will be one of the players in this year’s Mixed Pro Open (MPO) division. (Photo courtesy Andy Jaynes)
Disc golf tournament to bring hundreds of competitors to Kayak Point

The fourth annual Kayak Point Open will feature some of the best players in the state and the region this weekend.

Seattle Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh (29) celebrates his two-run home run with a trident as he high fives teammates during the first inning against the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Arlington, Texas. (Elías Valverde II / Tribune News Service)
Statistics show just how terrible Mariners’ offense has been | Analysis

Seattle leads the AL West, but situational hitting has been a setback.

Everett AquaSox outfielder Lazaro Montes, the Seattle Mariners’ No. 4 ranked prospect, smiles while running onto the field prior to Everett’s game against the Spokane Indians on June 26, 2024 at Funko Field. (Photo courtesy Evan Morud / Everett AquaSox)
AquaSox week in review: Big-prospect Montes one stop closer to dream

RJ Schreck and Will Schomberg lead split against Vancouver.

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Logan Gilbert throws in the first inning against the Cleveland Guardians on April 7, 2023, at Progressive Field. (John Kuntz / Tribune News Service)
Mariners righty Logan Gilbert earns first MLB All-Star nod

Gilbert has made 18 starts this season and averages 6.5 innings per start, the highest in the AL.

Seattle Mariners starting pitcher Bryan Woo #33 reacts after striking out San Francisco Giants’ Casey Schmitt #6 in the second inning of their MLB game at Oracle Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday, July 3, 2023. Woo played for Alameda High School. (Jane Tyska / Bay Area News Group)
Mariners’ Bryan Woo, Gregory Santos in line for rehab outings with Everett AquaSox

The 24-year-old pitcher has been on the injured list since June 25, and his next rotation is Saturday.

Pictured are some of the bracket winners from last year’s Lake Stevens Classic pickleball tournament. (Photo courtesy Pablo Granados)
Registration for Lake Stevens pickleball tournament still open

The 2024 Lake Stevens Classic is July 11-14, no strings attached.

The group of Jordan Spieth, Jason Day and Justin Rose on the third green in the second round of the 2015 U.S. Open golf tournament at Chambers Bay in University Place, Wash., on Friday, June 19, 2015. Spieth finished 5 under par for the tournament, making him the sixth player in history to claim both the Masters and U.S. Open titles the same year. (John David Mercer / Tribune News Service)
With no U.S. Open in sight at Chambers, Pierce County ponders Saudi-backed LIV Golf

Various U.S. Open venues are scheduled through 2042, but the 2015 host is not on the list.

NHL.com Jessica Campbell has been hired as a Seattle Kraken assistant coach and stands to become the first woman behind a bench in NHL history when the hockey season opens in October.
Kraken name Jessica Campbell the NHL’s first woman assistant coach

The 32-year-old strives to ‘carry this torch’ and ‘be a representation to women with the same goals.’

Berkly Catton is selected by the Seattle Kraken with the eight overall pick during the first round of the NHL Draft at Sphere on Friday, June 28, 2024, in Las Vegas. (Bruce Bennett / Tribune News Service)
Why the Kraken must add more offense despite wave-making moves

Seattle added Montour and Stephenson on Monday to help bring in a veteran presence.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.