CHICAGO – A season-opening road trip that started off with the first game postponed due to freezing temperatures and a snow/sleet mix ended seven days later on Thursday afternoon where winds in the Windy City ranged from around a constant 30 mph to gusts up to 45 mph.
And in those days and games in between, the Mariners played in games with wind chills in the mid-20s, two where the temperature never got above 40 degrees and another with driving rain followed by a constant drizzle.
With their windswept 5-1 victory over the White Sox, the Mariners finished the seven-game road trip on a positive note, and head back to Seattle for Friday’s home opener vs. the Astros at T-Mobile Park with a 3-4 record.
Meanwhile, Mother Nature remained undefeated.
While playing with some form of wind is expected on Chicago’s south side, what the two teams endured at Guaranteed Rate Field is a different level. A high-wind advisory alert from the National Weather Service for parts of Illinois and Indiana proved to be correct with the winds ratcheting up from 20-plus mph into the 30s around first pitch. When gusts pushed into the 40s in the middle innings, players were visibly trying to maintain balance and focus while looking hopelessly confused on pop flies in the infield.
The wind didn’t seem to bother Mariners starter Logan Gilbert and his reed-like 6-foot-6 frame. He worked five innings, allowing one unearned run on four hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
His teammates provided him with minimal run support. Jarred Kelenic broke out of an early-season funk, smacking a two-run homer off the foul pole in right field in the second inning.
With a rested 10-man bullpen and the Mariners still cognizant of the shortened spring training leading up to the season, they pulled Gilbert after an extended fifth inning that would be difficult to believe to those not in the building.
Seattle dropped three infield pop-ups, two of which allowed runners to reach base and score a run.
Up 2-1, Cal Raleigh hit a solo homer in the seventh and Mitch Hanger hammered a two-run homer in the eighth to provide some cushion.
Relievers Andres Munoz, Drew Steckenrider, Diego Castillo and Paul Sewald each worked scoreless innings to close out the win.