Logan Gilbert unleashes ‘Walter’ as Mariners complete 4-game sweep of A’s – The Seattle Times

In the hours before he was scheduled to jog to the mound at T-Mobile Park to face the Oakland A’s, a video of Logan Gilbert was shown around the clubhouse by a certain catcher and former roommate.

“You have to see this,” Cal Raleigh said.

It was a video of Gilbert driving to the park shot by his wife, Aviles, that perfectly illustrated his dichotomy of personalities. Wearing dark sunglasses on the blazingly sunny afternoon, Gilbert, now trying to rock his mustache, rolled down the window, his long hair blowing back as he nodded along to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” blasting on the stereo.

It cut a perfect picture of his angry throwing alter ego “Walter”, who will run a fastball under your chin because he can and isn’t afraid to do it again, in preparation for a game.

But that intense facade was interrupted by the wobbly backside of the little French bulldog, Winnie, who wore a bright pink harness as she stood on his lap, feeling the air on her face.

“That’s tonight’s starting pitcher,” Raleigh said with a chuckle.

Well, on a Bark in the Park night, the starting pitcher delivered one of his best performances of the season as he treated the A’s to the full “Walter” experience.

After giving up a two-run homer in the first inning, Gilbert’s pitching alter ego went to another level. He allowed only one baserunner the rest of his outing, while his teammates provided just enough offense, powered by Ty France’s two home runs, to complete a four-game sweep of the A’s on Thursday with a 3-2 victory.

“Yeah, I didn’t know she was filming me,” he said.

It does speak to the duality of Gilbert, who is engaging, sardonic and considerate when he’s not on the mound. But when he enters game mode, he is ruthless and aggressive.

“He was really good,” said France. “He comes out with that intent every time he steps on the mound.”

Gilbert threw eight innings and gave up two runs on three hits without a walk and six strikeouts. He was remarkably efficient, throwing only 77 pitches, taking 59 strikes.

“Logan is rolling right now,” manager Scott Servais said. “He has all four throws working. He has a lot of confidence. It’s fun to watch.”

The only runs allowed came in the first inning. He allowed a one-out double to Ryan Noda on a first pitch fastball away. After striking out Brent Rooker, Gilbert hung an 0-1 curveball that sent Seth Brown, one of the few established players on the A’s, to right field seats.

“It was probably too high,” he said. “Even the strikeout to Rooker before that was a little bit higher. After that first inning, I really started to get the ball down, especially those breaking balls. Definitely one I wanted back, but it happens.

Gilbert didn’t get mad, he got better. With a mix of four pitches, he retired 22 of the next 23 batters he faced. The lone runner was on a Noda-single with two outs in the sixth.

“I feel better about that this year,” Gilbert said of flushing the homer. “This year I’m comfortable with who I am as a person, as a pitcher, and I feel like things aren’t shaking me up as much.”

France, who likes to antagonize Gilbert, made sure he had some support. After being hit on the hand by a 97 mph fastball in Tuesday’s game and sitting out Wednesday’s game as a precaution, he was back in the starting lineup.

There was some hand-wringing on social media from a vocal section of the fan base, who complained that France were back in the line-up so quickly after what appeared to be a serious injury at the time. They brought up previous wrist injuries that led to slumps, despite France and the Mariners saying multiple times that the wrist was uninjured.

France calmed the complaints on the first pitch of his first plate appearance, launching a breaking ball from A’s starter JP Sears into the upper deck of Edgar’s Cantina for a solo homer.

“I think Ty’s hand is fine,” Servais said. “I know there was some concern that we might not play him today.”

And if there were any doubts about France’s health, he wiped them out in the sixth inning against the pitcher who hit him in the hand on Tuesday.

Right-hander Trevor May, a Kelso High standout and lifelong Mariners fan, left a fastball on the inside half of the plate that turned on France and sent a homer nearly to the same spot as his first-inning blast.

“My hand is fine,” France said as he walked into the interrogation room.

Is it really okay?

“It’s really okay,” he said.

France wore a plastic guard over his hand to protect it.

‘I might as well,’ he said, ‘that was the first time my hand had been hit like that. But they make the pads, so I might as well wear one. It was a bit uncomfortable, but I still have to get used to it. Preparing and remembering to put it on is the hardest part right now.

The Mariners finally lined up Gilbert for the win in the eighth inning. When A’s shortstop Nick Allen purposely dropped a French pop-up with Jose Caballero first to switch runners on first base, it looked like it could hurt the Mariners. Julio Rodriguez doubled to center right on reliever Garrett Acton’s first pitch and France was unable to score from first place.

“Really cleverly played”, Servais said. “If Julio doubles into the hole on the next pitch, is that a play on which Cabby would have scored? He would have had a chance to score. Ty didn’t get a chance to score. But a very clever game.

The A’s immediately signaled that Jarred Kelenic should be walked intentionally.

It brought Eugenio Suarez to the plate. There was a small problem. Suarez had gone to the bathroom during the pitching change for Acton. Because Rodriguez had swung on the first pitch and Kelenic had been walked intentionally, he barely had time to put on his batting gloves, let alone check the scouting report.

“Things moved pretty quickly,” Servais said. “Geno had no idea what the man threw, had never seen him before. Go play baseball.”

Suarez never attempted a swing as he worked a basesloaded five-pitch walk to push into the go-ahead run.

“These things happen,” Servais said. “They just seem to happen to Geno more.”

Despite the low number of throws, Gilbert didn’t get a chance for the entire game.

“Certainly, I always want to keep going, especially on that point and because I’m so close to the end there,” he said. “I thought I’d have a shot with pitch count, but we’ve got the best bullpen in baseball.”

He did not go Walter on Servais.

“It’s not an easy call. He clearly had pitches left and plenty in the tank,” Servais said. “There are a lot of things that go into those decisions – how the game feels there, but I thought he did a great job tonight. There is no day off for his next start. We’re going to ask so much of our starting pitching as the season progresses. We had a sleep in bullpen tonight. Your stopper is down there, who is also having a great season.”

Paul Sewald pitched a scoreless ninth inning to record his 11e save in 11 attempts.

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