TORONTO — As if a lackluster showing at the plate, featuring non-productive at-bats and weak contact and eventually resulting in being held scoreless for the sixth time this season could get worse, the possibility of losing shortstop J.P. Crawford to an injury for any amount of time would have been catastrophic for the Mariners in a season that has yet to go as planned.
When Crawford ran gingerly to first base and then limped off the field, going directly to the clubhouse with an athletic trainer, manager Scott Servais had an ashen look on his face as if to say, “What bad thing will happen next?”
Luckily for the Mariners, Crawford had just managed to somehow hit his ankle with his bat on a swing, causing a “dead ankle” with some temporary pain and numbness.
“He’s fine,” Servais said.
But are the Mariners “fine” after being shut out 3-0 by the Blue Jays?
Currently, Seattle is suffering from a “dead offense.”
The Mariners managed five singles and a double with two walks. Servais was embittered when Yusei Kikuchi threw six shutout innings against his team on Monday. He wasn’t quite as angry after Jose Berrios tossed seven shutout innings with David Phelps and Adam Cimber each working scoreless frames to preserve the shutout.
“We’ve got to change the record because it’s the same old song,” Servais said.
The expected pitchers’ duel between Berrios and Logan Gilbert didn’t disappoint. But the pitcher with the more dominant stuff didn’t win.
With a lively fastball that touched 99 mph and full usage of his secondary pitches, Gilbert delivered another solid outing, pitching seven innings and allowing three runs on six hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. Gilbert had 16 swings and misses, including 10 on his fastball.
The second inning ultimately decided the game. In the top of the second, Seattle loaded the bases with one out against Berrios. Eugenio Suarez doubled to left-center, Julio Rodriguez hit a rocked single off of shortstop Bo Bichette’s glove and Mike Ford walked to bring Steven Souza Jr. to the plate.
The veteran outfielder, who was brought up from Tacoma to replace the struggling Jarred Kelenic, swung at a first-pitch sinker from Berrios. The hard ground ball was immediately turned into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
In the bottom of the second, it was the Blue Jays’ turn to load the bases with one out. Gilbert gave up a leadoff double to Alejandro Kirk and hit Matt Chapman with a 97-mph fastball to start the problems. After he struck out Lourdes Gurriel looking, Santiago Espinal singled to fill the bases.
Irritated at the predicament, Gilbert blew a 99-mph fastball past Raimel Tapia for a swinging strike three to get the second out. It appeared that he would get out of the situation unscathed when he jammed George Springer with a 97-mph fastball, producing a weak fly ball to right field.
But Souza, who was playing deep, seemed to get a late break on the ball and sprinted in toward the infield. He made a diving attempt at it, just missing it. As the ball bounced away from him, the Blue Jays looked like they were chasing each other around the bases. All three base runners scored and Springer had a triple on a ball with 75 mph exit velocity.
“I did it to myself,” Gilbert said. “I always look back and think, ‘What could I have done better? How did I get myself in that situation? There were a few pitches that I wish I had back. It’s definitely the frustrating part, getting myself there, especially when I felt pretty good in that situation.”
“The story of the game was the second inning,” Servais said. “We hit into a double play and they found a hole and got their runs in.”
Off the bat, Gilbert thought it was an out.
“It always tough (to tell), but with the alignments and stuff like that, they usually work,” he said. “He just happened to put it right where people weren’t. That happens. That’s baseball.”
Berrios tossed seven shutout innings, allowing six hits with two walks and four strikeouts. He actually pitched into the eighth inning, walking Mike Ford and allowing a single to pinch-hitter Abraham Toro that ended his outing.
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo called on veteran right-hander David Phelps, a one-time Mariner, to clean up the mess. Phelps retired Cal Raleigh on a dribbler of a ground ball off the end of the bat, struck out Adam Frazier looking and got Ty France to line out to right.