Kyle Seager offered an emphatic answer to the inevitable question early Wednesday night.
No, the Mariners would not be no-hit for a second night in a row, thanks to Seager’s milestone home run in the first inning.
But, well, no, things also didn’t get a whole lot better for Seattle’s struggling offense.
Former Seattle University standout Tarik Skubal outdueled Logan Gilbert in a matchup of touted young pitchers, striking out nine in his first start against the Mariners and helping the Detroit Tigers complete a three-game series sweep with a 6-2 victory at T-Mobile Park.
The Tigers (17-26) entered the week with the worst record in the American League. The Mariners (21-23) combined for just three runs and nine hits in the three games, with Skubal following dominant performances from Detroit starters Casey Mize, Spencer Turnbull, who threw the second no-hitter of the season against the M’s on Tuesday night.
Skubal, a 24-year-old left-handed rookie, was one of the most touted pitching prospects in baseball when he debuted with Detroit last year. He struggled early this season — 0-6 with a 5.73 earned-run average — but he had his best outing of the season Wednesday in front of some 30 former college teammates, coaches and friends.
He settled in after allowing Seager’s blast in the first inning, scattering four hits and two walks over five innings to earn his first win of the season. He hit 99 mph on the stadium’s radar gun in the first inning, and his changeup later in the game proved particularly troublesome for the Mariners.
“He threw the ball well. He did a really good job tonight,” Seager said. “I was fortunate to get the one early, but we didn’t get much else going. He was definitely on his game.”
Gilbert, another highly regarded pitching prospect, couldn’t get out of the third inning in his second start for the Mariners. He had a 1-2-3 first inning, but needed 30 pitches to get through the second and managed to get just two outs on 35 pitches in the third inning before he was relieved.
Gilbert’s fastball sat around 93-94 mph, and he didn’t have command of his curveball or his slider. He exited with a 5-2 deficit.
“I love being out there,” Gilbert said. “I love competing, especially when tonight I didn’t have my stuff. I didn’t have a good feel for my pitches, and I have a big responsibility as a starting pitcher for my team to try to find a way to get through innings and make something of a game when I don’t have great pitches, because that’s going to happen throughout your career a lot, so just wasn’t able to do that tonight.”
Through two starts, Gilbert is 0-2 with a 9.45 ERA.
Jarred Kelenic, of course, arrived in Seattle, along with Gilbert, to much fanfare last week. Kelenic did have one hit Wednesday, and was hit by a pitch late, but he hasn’t been the consistent spark at the top of the order many hoped he could be, posting a .590 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in his first full week.
It’s a tiny sample size, no doubt, and Mariners manager Scott Servais says he likes what he’s seen from Kelenic so far.
“He’s starting to settle in,” Servais said. “I thought his at-bats tonight were very good. He did make a conscious adjustment (to hit to the opposite field) … against a tough left-hander.
“Jared is going to continue to get better as this thing goes along.”
Seager ended any no-hit drama early, hitting a 97-mph fastball from Skubal 420 feet out to right field. That gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead, and it was Seager’s 84th home run at T-Mobile Park, breaking a tie with Nelson Cruz and Raul Ibanez for the most in the park’s history.
“Well, it was a hit,” Seager deadpanned. “So that was good. It was better than (Tuesday) night.”
Between innings later in the game, Seager was surprised by a brief video from his young daughter played on the big screen congratulating him on the home-run milestone.
“That was sweet. That one hit me,” he said. “I was definitely surprised. Those little ones will get you, so it was pretty special for me.”
The Mariners threatened again in the fifth inning. Sam Haggerty walked and Kelenic laced a solid single to center, bringing the tying run to the plate with one out. But Skubal needed just three pitches — three swings and misses — to strike out Mitch Haniger. He got Kyle Lewis to swing-and-miss at a slider for the final out of the inning.
His night complete, Skubal screamed in celebration as he walked off the mound.
The Mariners had a chance again in the eighth inning against Detroit reliever Michael Fulmer, putting two on with two outs.
But Fulmer struck out Seager swinging and got Tom Murphy to pop out to end it.
How rough has it been for Seattle’s offense?
Jose Marmolejos, bumped to the bottom of the lineup with his .145 batting average, belted a deep fly ball off Detroit’s Jose Cisnero that appeared headed over the wall in straightaway center in the seventh inning — until Detroit’s JaCoby Jones jumped and brought it back. Jones’ catch was so casual it was cruel, as if he never doubted he had it.
The doubt, meanwhile, seeps a little deeper for the Mariners’ offense.