M's Avoid Sweep in the Six, Fall in Series to Blue Jays

The worry this offseason was finding bats to round out the starting lineup – especially fill the holes of the outfield, second base, and find a full-time DH. There was never a doubt about the pitching, where most had Seattle as the #1 rotation in the bigs prior to the season's start. But here early in April 2024, it’s ALL been bad… the pitching, the hitting, the defense, the coaching decisions, the newcomers, the ex-Mariners finding success on other ballclubs… the vibes. Yes, last year’s Seattle Mariners started 4-7, but last year’s Seattle Mariners also missed the postseason...

It’s been a rough watch for those continuing to tune in daily. If you were one who didn’t during the Toronto series, A - I don't blame you and B, here’s what you missed.

Luis Castillo, looking for his first '24 win on the bump, faced off with Toronto’s Jose Berrios.

In the opening game of the newly renovated, and oddly green-colored interior Rogers Centre, Toronto jumped ahead first. Catcher Alejandro Kirk singled Justin Turner home in the bottom of the second with two outs. The following inning for the Jays, and they tacked on two more, thanks to a bloop-single by Davis Schneider. Then another was added on, thanks to a Vladimir Guerrero double. 4-0 was the disadvantage for Seattle, a team desperately trying to click on any cylinder.

Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays

In his colorful batting gloves and cleats, Toronto's Vlad Jr. let's the umpire know he needs time to find his helmet after an RBI double on Monday in Rogers Centre. Photo: Cole Burston / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Castillo again couldn’t surpass five innings, giving four earned on nine hits, striking out six.

Yes, the M’s BABIP was shocking, and far better compared to Toronto, but that said, they did get punched out ten times throughout Monday. It was too little, too late for Seattle as their first runs came in the final two innings, thanks to solo home runs by J.P. Crawford and Cal Raleigh. Seattle lost the opening game of the series in the Blue Jays’ home opener by a score of 5-2.

Next up was George Kirby, looking to rebound from his previous poor start against veteran righty Chris Bassitt.

Forgive me if you have heard this one before, but Toronto got out to a sizeable advantage before Seattle could muster a single run, let alone a hit or traffic on the basepaths.

The Jays scored five runs from innings three - four, thanks to multiple RBIs by George Springer, Bo Bichette’s first home run of the season, and an RBI double by IKF, Isiah Kiner-Falefa.

Seattle Mariners v Toronto Blue Jays

Seattle's George Kirby couldn't even fathom watching Bo Bichette stroll around the bases after his two-run homer Tuesday night. Photo: Kevin Sousa / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Much like Monday, and for the most part, the entirety of the early season, Seattle could not find their offense and the pitching was less than ideal. Kirby gave up five earned over just four innings, and the M’s struck out ten times again. Dominic Canzone and Mitch Haniger had home runs late in the game Tuesday but they again fell short, this time by a score of 5-3.

Now losers of three consecutive, the thin man, Logan Gilbert stood tall on the mound looking to salvage a win in the finale against former-Mariner Yusei Kikuchi.

Shockingly enough, it was Seattle who scored their first run in innings 1-6 of the series, AND before the Blue Jays. It was J.P. Crawford who got handcuffed by Yusei with two strikes but fought off an RBI single to right that scored Dylan Moore in the top of the third.

Not shockingly, Kikuchi fanned eight batters through the first four innings. Both Julio and Ty France K’d in their first two at bats. Yusei was efficient throughout, finishing six full innings, allowing just three hits.

Luckily on Wednesday, Logan Gilbert was strong on the mound for the M’s. Before giving up a line drive home run to Vladdy in the bottom of the seventh, he allowed just two hits. Notes on Guerrero’s blast: 459 feet, 114 MPH off the bat. One would say he got ALL of that one, knotting it up at one apiece.

Logan kept his pitch count in check throughout but was pulled after allowing a single and issuing a walk, leaving two on base for Vlad against Andres Munoz with two outs in the eighth. After falling behind 2-0, Munoz got Guerrero to fly out to Julio in shallow center.

What did the Mariners do in the top of the ninth to try and get the lead? Three consecutive swinging strikeouts.

Munoz stayed in the game to try and force extras. He sure as heck made it interesting, loading the bases after allowing a single, hit-by-pitch and a walk to old-friend Danny Vogelbach, but Jorge Polanco made a wonderful running grab on a blooper into no-man’s land in short right field to end the inning.

Free baseball in the finale set up Cal Raleigh, batting from the right side of the plate. First pitch he saw from lefty Time Mayza was hit over the fence in right field. The Big Dumper’s dominance of the Jays continued, and more importantly, gave Seattle a 3-1 lead. It was his tenth career home run against Toronto, a massive one at that. It was also his first-career opposite-field right-handed home run.

New-dad Ty France added some insurance with an RBI double with two outs. Veteran-dad Mitch Haniger added even more insurance with a two-RBI base hit, and it was 6-1 M’s. Ryne Stanek, featuring a handful of 100-MPH fastballs, ended the finale with that same score.

Seattle heads home after a 2-4 first road swing of the season. Maybe their offense from extras on Wednesday is a sign of better things to come as M’s travel back across the border? Only time will tell.

The Chicago Cubs will fly north from San Diego after facing off with the Padres. The Cubbies choked away a massive lead Monday against the Padres but responded with a 5-1 win Tuesday. Last season, Chicago ranked above average in offense and middle of the pack in pitching, finishing with an above .500 record, but missing out on the National League playoffs, finishing second to Milwaukee in the Central.

The upcoming homestand and series kicks off Friday after a travel day Thursday.

Pitching probables for CHC @ SEA:

  • Friday April 12th, 6:40 PM PT: LHP Jordan Wicks (0-1, 4.15 ERA) vs. RHP Bryce Miller (1-1, 3.00 ERA)
  • Saturday April 13th, 6:40 PM PT: LHP Shota Imanaga (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Emerson Hancock (1-1, 11.42 ERA)
  • Sunday April 14th, 1:10 PM PT: TBD vs. RHP Luis Castillo (0-3, 6.89 ERA)

American League West standings as of Wednesday 4/10 @ 3:30 PM PT:

  1. Los Angeles Angels & Texas Rangers (6-5), -- GB
  2. Seattle Mariners (5-8), 2.0 GB
  3. Oakland Athletics (4-7), 2.0 GB
  4. Houston Astros (4-8), 2.5 GB

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