The 2022 Mariners, through 64 games, had a record of 28-36. The 2023 Mariners have started the season off 31-33 and have just lost two of three against the division-rival Los Angeles Angels.
At the time last season, the team sat 11.5 games back of the division and in fourth place. Currently, they sit 10.0 games back and in fourth place. Based on the team being able to make the postseason last season, there should still be hope for this team.
Despite that fact, their postseason berth was thanks in large part to the team’s 14-game win streak, among other factors, factors that seem to be less likely to occur in the new season.
Whether or not the team will have a bounce-back similar to their 2022 season is yet to be seen. For now, the only thing to do is look at the performance of the field on a series-to-series basis.
Game 1: Late comeback falls short; Final 5-4 Angels
The Luis Castillo vs. Shohei Ohtani game. It appeared to be a pitcher’s duel coming in, and while they both put up very similar stats, both likely felt like they could have performed better for their team.
Seattle’s offense got hot early, as a first-inning Jarred Kelenic blast gave the Mariners two runs. The home run continues Kelenic’s breakout season, as after the series, his OPS sits at .823 and OPS+ at 131.
Despite the early scoring, the two-run home run did not spark the offense, who did not score again until the fifth inning, after the Angels tied it in the third with two runs and took the lead with a one-run fourth inning.
Those two runs in the third inning came from the bat of Ohtani, who himself hit a home run to get the runs that he gave up to Kelenic back. After coming back up and hitting a double in the fifth, Castillo struck Mike Trout out swinging and celebrated in the direction of Ohtani, an interaction that made rounds on Twitter during the game.
Ohtani’s day on the mound ended with a line of 5.0 innings, three earned runs, six strikeouts and five walks. Castillo went an extra inning, ending with a line of 6.0 innings, three earned runs, 10 strikeouts and one walk. However, Castillo had an additional two unearned runs and got the loss for the game.
Adding to his win in the duel, Ohtani went 3-for-4 at the plate with multiple RBI and extra-base hits.
Game 2: Bryan Woo bounces back strong; Mariners win 6-2
After his first start went as disastrous as possible, Bryan Woo was one pitch away from going five-plus scoreless against a tough offense in the Angels. His one mistake was not even necessarily a bad pitch. It just came with Ohtani at the plate, who took a low-and-inside slider deep to right field.
The ball came off the bat at 103 MPH and landed 400 feet from home plate, and no matter where the game was played, that ball was going to be an HR.
However, other than that two-run HR from Ohtani, Woo looked locked in. His fastball looked stronger and his control was far improved from his start in Texas. His final line was 4.2 innings, two earned runs, seven strikeouts and one walk.
After coming out, the Mariners’ bullpen locked down the Angels’ offense, finishing off the final 5.1 innings without giving up a run, and giving up just two hits the rest of the way.
Offensively, the top two bats sparked the game, as J.P. Crawford ended 4-for-5 with a double, and Julio Rodríquez ended 3-for-5 with a home run. AJ Pollock and Eugenio Suárez also had multi-hit games, with Ty France and Jarred Kelenic having extra-base hits of their own.
Game 3: Angels secure series win; Angels win 9-4
In the rubber match of the series, the Angels had Logan Gilbert’s number, and two of the Mariners’ top offensive weapons went hitless, both key factors in the Los Angeles win.
As for Gilbert, he went just 3.0 innings and gave up seven runs, six of which were earned. Control was a big factor in the bad start, as despite not walking any batters, he threw 23 balls out of 58 pitches and left several pitches in the heart of the zone.
The start brings his season ERA up to 4.38, which is lower than his 3.20 ERA in 2022. Despite the apparent down year, his FIP is actually .05 better and his WHIP is lower. While starts such as this are never ideal, Gilbert is more than likely going to be able to move past a rough stretch and return to form.
As for the bats, Kelenic ended the game 0-for-3 and Rodríquez ended 0-for-5. France and Teoscar Hernández had multi-hit games, but their offense was clearly not enough to make up for nine runs.
One of the surprising bats in the series was Mike Ford, who hit a HR in the rubber match to benefit an otherwise hush offense, his second HR of the series.
Despite losing the series, the Mariners are back at home for two series, first against the Miami Marlins and then against the Chicago White Sox.