Welcome back Baseball!
After a textbook Mariners win on Opening Day, expectations inevitably were through the roof with the pitching staff looking lights out alongside some timely hitting to come up with a 3-0 victory in game 1 against the Guardians. Luis Castillo looked every bit the ace Seattle traded for at last years deadline, and the bullpen was able to back him up and complete the shutout of the Guardians on Opening Day thanks to a Ty France 8th inning home run.
The Mariners would be unable to follow up on day 2 of the season, playing an uncharacteristically sloppy game leading to a 9-4 loss against Cleveland on Friday. Robbie Ray was unable to locate his fastball like he normally does, with his velocity also being a tick down. The defense behind him wasn't doing him any favors either with 3 errors committed on the evening, and Cleveland would pounce on those mistakes. The bad news would continue after the last out as well as it turns out Robbie Ray was in fact dealing with an injury and he would be placed on the 15-day IL to recover, not ideal for a starting rotation that went all of last season without a single day on the IL.
Game 3 would provide more encouragement to Mariners fans with a strong Logan Gilbert start, but the bats would not get hot enough. Cleveland proved why they were one win away from the ALCS last year with how dominant their pitching, particularly the bullpen, was throughout the series, and that would be no different here. Guardians starter Aaron Civale tossed 7 shutout innings with relative ease against the M's lineup. Logan Gilbert was also very good but allowed one run on a Josh Naylor solo HR, with Cleveland's second run on an Andres Gimenez solo HR on Diego Castillo in the seventh. The offensive heroics that proved vital in game 1 against James Karinchak would not repeat themselves on Saturday, with the Guardians reliever striking out both Cal Raleigh and Julio Rodriguez with runners on base and an opportunity to tie or take the lead.
Going into Sunday with a chance to even out the series the Mariners would trot out veteran Marco Gonzales looking to bounce back. Marco got through 5 innings but gave up 4 runs with 2 walks and 6 hits. Julio Rodriguez looks to be picking up right where he left off last year with a leadoff Home Run in the bottom of the first inning. The Mariners would give Marco a chance to get the victory with a Cal Raleigh RBI in the bottom of the 5th to take the lead 5-4. However Steven Kwan, proving to be a thorn in the Mariners side all series, came up with a clutch hit in the 7th inning to tie the game and after both bullpens would hold serve in the 8th and 9th, we would head to extra innings.
Cleveland instantly put pressure on Mariners reliever Penn Murfee with the "ghost runner" starting on second base. Murfee would start by striking out Amed Rosario, and with first base open, intentionally walking star Jose Ramirez. New Guardian Josh Bell would draw a walk to load the bases with only one out, and the matchup games would begin. Left handed batter Josh Naylor came in to pinch hit for Oscar Gonzalez and in response the lefty Gabe Speier came out of the Mariners bullpen but would not be able to come up with the double play as Naylor grounded back to the mound and Speier got the force at home but Raleigh's throwing error to first would prove costly as Jose Ramirez came around to score. With Sam Haggerty starting on second base, the prospects of Seattle tying the game seemed positive, but Ty France flied out and was unable to advance Haggerty, and with Eugenio Suarez striking out and Cal Raleigh flying out, Seattle couldn't bring home the tying run and drop the opening series of the season.