JP Crawford had two hits, including a runs-scoring single on Seattle’s fourth run, the 500th hit of his career
ATLANTA — After watching the Atlanta Braves tackle his fastball in the first inning, Logan Gilbert had to change his strategy to keep Seattle in the game.
Gilbert’s splinter saved the day.
Gilbert bounced back from a bumpy first inning and knocked out 15 straight batsmen. Eugenio Suarez hit a two-run home run and the Mariners defeated the Braves 7-3 on Saturday night.
Gilbert (2-2) allowed three straight hits, including Matt Olson’s two-run home run, to open the game. Gilbert credited catcher Tom Murphy for helping him adjust his pitches “just based on the swing.” They hit the fastball hard early on. … Murf did a good job realizing that and making a new game plan from there.”
Gilbert also got his only walk in the first inning but didn’t give up another hit until Austin Riley hit a single into right field with two outs in the sixth inning.
Gilbert allowed two runs on four hits with nine strikeouts in six innings.
“They were really aggressive in the first inning,” said Seattle manager Scott Servais, who said Gilbert “made a great adjustment after that.”
JP Crawford had two hits, including a runs scoring single in Seattle’s fourth run with three runs.
Olson’s Homer to midfield launched Ronald Acuña Jr., who opened the game with a single down the middle.
“Not really the start you’re looking for,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert placed more emphasis on his splitter, which at first glance looks like a fastball to batsmen, and regrouped with a dominant stretch of five scoreless innings. The Mariners’ offense destroyed Atlanta’s lineup of relievers trailing opener Jesse Chavez in bullpen play. Taylor Trammell drove a run with a single in heat four ahead of Michael Tonkin (3-2).
Teoscar Hernandez Single drove into Jarred Kelenic in the fifth round to a 5:2 lead. Suárez, who hit three runs with two, added his fifth home run ahead of Kirby Yates in the seventh, extending the lead to five runs.
“It was great,” Gilbert said of the Mariners’ nine-hit offense. “It helps me a lot after a tough first inning.”
Olson leads the Braves with 13 home runs, including blasts in each of the first two games of the series with Seattle.
Tonkin, Atlanta’s second pitcher, allowed five runs, with only two earned, on six hits and two walks in two innings. The Braves committed three errors, including two from Acuña, one fielding error, and one throwing error.
Jesse Chavez was the effective opener for Atlanta, allowing one hit in 2 1/3 innings scoreless.
The Braves fell to 3-0 in bullpen games.
Atlanta is trying to make up for a depleted rotation during the team’s 13 straight games before its next rest day on June 1. If the bullpen is stressed during that time span, the Braves may need to make other roster changes to compensate for losses of LHP Max Fried (strained left forearm) and RHP Kyle Wright (right shoulder inflammation) on the injured list.
“The starts with the other guys will be crucial,” said manager Brian Snitker.
Help could soon come from right-hander AJ Smith-Shawver, 20, who allowed two runs with four hits in five innings on his debut with Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday. Smith-Shawver was a 2021 draft pick who signed with the Braves but turned down a chance to play quarterback for the Texas Tech football team.
“The kid’s got a really good arm,” Snitker said. “His things are real.”
After splitting the first two games of the series, the Braves are seeking their first straight win over the Mariners on Sunday since 2011, when Atlanta won three games in Seattle. The Mariners won two out of three home games against the Braves last season.
Prior to that series, the Mariners had not played in Atlanta since the debut of the Braves’ new stadium, now called Truist Park, in 2017.
Fried is lifting weights two weeks after being placed on the injured list. There is no indication that the update will affect the initial projections that Fried is expected to be out for around two months. “He’ll be in great shape when he comes back,” Snitker said.
The Braves LHP Jared Shuster (0-2, 7.24 ERA) is aiming for his first win in Sunday’s final game of the series against Mariners RHP George Kirby (5-2, 2.45).