M’s Putrid Offensive Woes Continue to Start 2024, Lose Series to Guardians

A split with Boston in the opening series could have easily resulted in a sweep by the Red Sox, but thanks to brilliant pitching by George Kirby and Logan Gilbert, Seattle sat at 2-2 as they welcomed in the Cleveland Guardians. Seattle’s offense is a worry early on, and not having high leverage arms like Matt Brash and Gregory Santos to help relieve some late inning stress also doesn’t help either.

Cleveland made their annual visit to the PNW over the last few days. Did you miss any of the action? Well action-wise, you did not miss all that much. Quite honestly, this was a good one to miss… But nevertheless, here’s everything.

It was a sunny Monday night for the opening game of series two of the young MLB season. Triston McKenzie, after throwing just 16 innings in 2023 due to a teres major muscle strain causing lingering elbow issues, made his season debut up against young right-hander Emerson Hancock. Hancock was set to start the year in Triple-A Tacoma but an injury to starter Bryan Woo gave the former-Georgia Bulldog his chance to fill in.

Hancock made rapid work of Cleveland in the top of the first, striking out Steven Kwan on three pitches, and getting Andres Gimenez and Jose Ramirez to ground out on three combined pitches.

The “No Fly Zone” was in full effect Monday out in center, as Julio Rodriguez made a wonderful, leaping, into-the-wall grab to rob Will Brennan of extra bases in the top of the second.

The following half inning and Seattle looked to get on the board first. Consecutive walks to Mitch Garver and Cal Raleigh was followed by a single by Ty France that scored Garver. Dominic Canzone followed Ty, and he made McKenzie pay in a big way. Dom punished a high fastball into the ‘Pen for his first home run of the season, ultimately giving Seattle a 4-0 lead before the home second had concluded.

Cleveland Guardians v Seattle Mariners

The T-Mobile-sponsored signage in the back says it all. Dominic Canzone gave Seattle a 4-0 lead after his three-run home run early Monday night.Photo: Alika Jenner / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Top three and things got interesting for Hancock. Former-Athletic Ramon Laureano swung at an inside changeup, and off of his knuckles, hit the ball into play. The out was made at first, but then the Guardians challenged the call.

Not only was Laureano not out, or not down a strike in the count due to a foul ball, but was granted first base as an out call was switched to a hit-by-pitch. Dylan Moore had some choice words from the bench to field umpire Vic Carapazza, resulting in his first-ever ejection. Can’t blame the guy for his frustration… it was a horrid reversed call, and of course then led to a Cleveland offensive rally.

Consecutive singles following the "hit-by-pitch" led to two runs scoring in the inning for the Guards, but Hancock did a nice job limiting the damage despite the circumstances.

Seattle was able to tack on one more, going up by a score of 5-2 as Luis Urias worked a bases-loaded walk in the home fourth.

Hancock exited after 5 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on four hits. Lefties Tayler Saucedo and Gabe Speier followed Emerson out of the bullpen. Then it was Andres Munoz who came in the eighth.

With Seattle up 5-3, first baseman Josh Naylor absolutely rocketed a hanging Munoz slider deep into the right field seats to make late Monday a one-run affair.

Though Seattle’s bats couldn’t find any insurance, newly-acquired Ryne Stanek got Cleveland to go down 1-2-3 in top nine and Seattle snuck away with a series opening-win as Hancock earned his first-ever MLB win as a starter.

The middle game featured a pitching matchup of all pitching matchups: '20 American League Cy Young winner Shane Bieber facing 3x All-Star Luis Castillo.

It was all Bieber and Castillo through three complete. But then it got interesting for Luis in the top of the fourth.

Jose Ramirez reached on a single to kick off the inning. Castillo got two straight pop outs and hoped to get out of the inning scoreless. But Will Brennan, with two down, laced a single to right and with Ramirez running on the pitch, Mitch Haniger out in right field allowed the ball to get under his glove and Jose came all-the-way around the bases to score on the single + E9.

Next batter was Bo Naylor, and the next pitch was crushed. The Cleveland catcher put one into the right field seats and in the blink of an eye, and with two outs in the inning, the Guardians had a 3-0 advantage.

Seattle was lifeless, again, from the plate offensively. Their historic strikeout numbers to start 2024 continued on their bad path Tuesday night. Bieber punched out nine Mariners over six shutout innings.

The M’s had chances with RISP all night but folded almost every time. Arguably the league’s best closer, Emmanuel Clase, got Seattle to go down in order in their last chance, resulting in a 5-2 Cleveland victory.

Over his last three starts dating back to late September of 2023, Luis Castillo has failed to stay in the game as a starter for more than five innings. He fell to 0-2 on the season after Tuesday’s loss.

@206hoops on Twitter posted a not-so fun to look at statistic. Former-2023 Mariners Teoscar Hernandez (FA, L.A. Dodgers), Jarred Kelenic (Trade, Atlanta Braves) and Eugenio Suarez (Trade, Arizona Diamondbacks) have started off 2024 strong, where the entirety of Seattle’s lineup has done the polar opposite:

Seattle did sign veteran left-hander, and 2015 AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel from the Minnesota Twins Tuesday afternoon. Keuchel in 2023 made six starts and struck out 25 over just under 38 total innings. He’ll report to Triple-A Tacoma to start his tenure with the club.

Looking for the series win Wednesday, Seattle had their best guy going on the bump. 26-year-old George Kirby faced off with lefty Logan Allen.

George sliced and diced Boston up on Friday night. He did the polar opposite throughout Wednesday’s matinee rubber match. Steven Kwan led off the game with a first-pitch single to left, followed by Kirby hitting Gimenez with an off-speed pitch. Jose Ramirez then barreled up a Kirby pitch to the fence out in right. An RBI groundout and an RBI single (borderline E4 on Jorge Polanco) plated two more and after the first, it was 3-0.

Cleveland Guardians v Seattle Mariners

Cleveland's switch-hitting 3B Jose Ramirez has been as solid as they come the entirety of his MLB career. Here's Ramirez's first inning double off of George Kirby.Photo: Alika Jenner / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

The pesky Guardians added two more in the second on an RBI double (borderline E3 on Ty France) and a sacrifice fly. And then three more in the fourth...

It was the most earned runs George Kirby has given up in a start in his young MLB career. His day was done prior to completing four innings, allowing ten hits.

J.P. Crawford and Jorge Polanco collided next to second base Wednesday on a soft grounder. Crawford, who unintentionally slide-tackled Polanco, stayed in the game but was pulled later – hopefully precautionarily.

Third baseman Josh Rojas became the first position pitcher of 2024. He twirled a scoreless ninth, as everyone expected.

The M’s were embarrassed in the finale, as Cleveland won the series by handily winning Wednesday, a final of 8-0.

A much-needed day of rest and travel as the M’s, losers of two straight, are headed east to Milwaukee to take on the Brewers over the upcoming weekend. The Brew Crew had won three in-a-row prior to losing Wednesday against Minnesota at home.

The Seattle Mariners, after seven games, are hitting .196 BA with 74 strikeouts. One could say it is a miracle they are 3-4 overall.

Pitching probables for SEA @ MIL:

  • Friday April 5th, 5:10 PM PST: RHP Logan Gilbert (0-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. RHP Freddy Peralta (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
  • Saturday April 6th, 4:10 PM PST: RHP Bryce Miller (0-1, 7.20 ERA) vs. LHP DL Hall (0-0, 4.50 ERA)
  • Sunday April 7th, 11:10 AM PST: RHP Emerson Hancock (1-0, 5.06 ERA) vs. RHP Colin Rea (1-0, 1.80 ERA)

American League West standings as of April 3rd @ 4:00 PM:

  1. Los Angeles Angels & Texas Rangers (4-2), -- GB
  2. Seattle Mariners (3-4), 1.0 GB
  3. Houston Astros (1-5), 3.0 GB
  4. Oakland Athletics (1-6), 3.5 GB

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