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Mariners break into Easter baskets early, get sugar rush followed by headaches, beat Cleveland 3-2

The rest of us dip parsley into salt water to represent the tears of Mariners fans past

Jarred Kelenic #10 of the Seattle Mariners hits a single during the eighth inning of the game against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field on April 08, 2023 in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

By the time this game ended, you’d be forgiven for having forgotten that it took Cal Quantrill 22 pitches to record his first out. But that is, in fact, what happened. Julio started off with an infield hit, already his third of the year by my count. After Ty France moved him to second on a scorching line drive, Eugenio hit one into left and Julio, for the second time this year, scored after running past Manny Acta’s stop sign. This was somehow the fifth time that Julio has scored in the first inning this year. Those are two trends that I am 100% here for.

A Calboy walk had the bases loaded for Jarred, who pulled a ground ball. Ugh. But wait! With no shift, the ball split the right side, and for the second time this year, Jarred got a hit on a pulled grounder. Would it blow your mind that here we are on April 8, and Jarred has already matched his total from all of last year? It brought the score to 2-0 Mariners. Seattle left the bases loaded there, but came charging right back the next inning, when Ty hit a double down the left field line and Geno drove him in, their second hits of the day.

Marco meanwhile, cruised through the early part of the game. After the Guardians knocked his cutter around on Sunday–most notably a Mike Zunino homer–he adjusted and was almost exclusively four-seamer/changeup the first time through the order. I’m not really sure how it worked, but it did. Against Amed Rosario, who’s not a bad hitter, he got a called strike and a whiff on back-to-back 88-mph fastballs located here.

However he was doing it, he got through the first four innings having given up just three scattered hits. But come the fifth, the sugar high would end and the headache started. Doubles from Andres Gimenez and Myles Straw brought the score to 3-1, and a walk to Stephen Kwan put runners on first and second with just one out. Julio ran down a line drive, and then the hardest hit ball of the day, off the bat of José Ramírez, somehow went right into J.P.’s glove.

The next inning wasn’t much better. A walk. A double. Runners in scoring position and Marco clearly out of finesse. So Scott pulled him, but I have to tip my cap to Marco who had to face a potent lineup in back-to-back starts to open his year, coming up with a 29% CSW both times against a great pure-hitting team. Penn Murfee kept our heart-rates up, by throwing decent sliders that just couldn’t get a whiff, but on the seventh pitch of the at-bat, a fly ball on his four-seamer got the M’s out of the jam.

The seventh brought yet more trouble, with Matt Festa unable to get his slider close enough to the zone to tempt Cleveland’s hitters. As frustrating as this was to see out of Festa, I think Cleveland’s patience against him highlighted just how effective Marco was. Festa got chased after just three batters with runners on the corner and one out.

The bullpen had to cover five innings yesterday, so Servais went to one of his only rested relievers, Gabe Speier. Facing down the Guardians’ most fearsome hitter, he did exactly what you’d want him to do, inducing a 72-mph pop up. But a gruesome lack of communication between new teammates Teoscar Hernandez and Kolten Wong led to a dropped ball and an RBI “double.” No matter. Speier induced more weak contact to get a couple outs and then went back out for the eighth where he got another soft ground ball and then, tired of relying on his defense, remembered he could buy himself flowers, striking out two more. The six batters he pitched to today came away with exit velocities of 72, 82, 88, and 51 and two swinging strikeouts. If you’d told me on Opening Day that someone was going to open the season with back-to-back Sun Hat Awards, I think Gabe Speier would not have been in my first 30 guesses, but here we are.

The offense, meanwhile, stalled out after the second inning. Other than a single from Jarred(!), which he followed up with a stolen base(!), the Mariners couldn’t get another hit until the eighth. Quantrill had settled down and then Eli Morgan retired all six batters he faced. But Enyel De Los Santos, last seen violating the pitch clock in Seattle, served up a single to Suárez. That was Eugenio’s third hit of the day, but he squandered the opportunity by getting picked off on a lazy step back to first. It was the kind of sloppiness you’d hope was left behind in the first week.

Teo picked him up by getting hit by a wild pitch, and then Jarred, if you can believe it, hit another grounder through the right side. Once again, though, the Mariners couldn’t cash in, and they headed to the bottom of the ninth nursing a one-run lead with the top of Cleveland’s lineup due up. But the Sea-Walld held, for the Mariners’ first one-run win of the year.

Seattle has a chance to pull back to .500 tomorrow with George Kirby starting against Zach Plesac, which I note because the last time the Mariners faced him, he broke his hand punching the T-Mobile Park pitchers mound.