Mariners' offense no match for Shane Bieber in 5-2 loss to Guardians

Adam Jude, The Seattle Times on

Published in Baseball

The Mariners didn’t pitch particularly well Tuesday night, highlighted (lowlighted?) by a second straight sluggish start from Luis Castillo to open the season.

They didn’t hit much off Cleveland ace Shane Bieber, the continuation of an alarming early trend for Seattle’s offense.

But the good news, at least, was that their defense was pretty darn shoddy, too.

Yeah, it was that kind of night.

No actual good news to report here in the aftermath of the Mariners’ lackluster 5-2 loss to Bieber and the Guardians before a crowd of 20,646 at T-Mobile Park.

Bieber dominated the Mariners lineup over six shutout innings, scattering six hits with no walks and nine strikeouts.

The Mariners created some traffic on the basepaths early, with three singles in the first two innings, but they couldn’t come through with the necessary breakthrough at-bat. Bieber found his groove after that.

“Just incredible on a night like tonight — cold, windy, and (he) just dominated out there,” said Cleveland’s first-year manager, Stephen Vogt, the Mariners’ bullpen coach last year. “It’s really fun to watch.”

His fastball might only average 91.6 mph, but the 2020 AL Cy Young winner showed how adept he is at mixing in all five of his pitches, keeping the Mariners off balance (and off the bases) for most of the night.

“You look at just his stuff of individual pitches, he doesn’t have anything that jumps off the chart,” Mariners third baseman Josh Rojas said. “But he’s smart and he uses them all very well.”

In a matchup of two of the league’s top pitchers, Castillo looked very much the part for three innings, striking out six of the first 11 batters he faced to match zeros with Bieber.

“Early on, Luis was on top of his game,” manager Scott Servais said.

But things fell apart quickly for Castillo and the Mariners in the fourth inning.

With two outs and Jose Ramirez at first, Castillo’s 0-2 changeup caught too much of the middle of the plate, and Cleveland’s Will Brennan turned on it for a hard-hit single to right field.

As Ramirez raced to third, the Mariners’ Mitch Haniger misplayed the bouncing ball in right field, allowing Ramirez to come all the way around for the game’s first run.


Two pitches later, in the biggest swing of the game, Cleveland’s Bo Naylor pulled a 96-mph fastball from Castillo — located in off the plate — out to right field for a two-run home run.

That pushed the Guardians’ lead to 3-0, and the Mariners never mustered much of a fight after that.

Cleveland added another run in the fifth inning to make it 4-0 after a wayward throw from Seattle third baseman Josh Rojas on a Steven Kwan bunt, allowing Brayan Rocchio to score.

Rojas said he was rushing to get the throw off and never was able to get a good grip on the ball, which tailed into the runner.

It was the Mariners’ second error of the game, and Castillo never recovered from the fateful fourth inning.

“This team is still trying to figure itself out. We know that,” Servais said, adding: “We have a good defensive club, but you’ve got to play clean — unless your offense is really clicking and can overcome it. Our offense is not really clicking yet. So every out is so important.”

Castillo surrendered four runs (all earned) on 10 hits, with one walk and seven strikeouts. He has lost both of his starts to open the season, and he holds a 6.75 ERA in 10.2 innings.

“I feel good,” Castillo said, via interpreter Freddy Llanos. “You’ve just got to keep working and working. The good stuff is about to come. The only thing I can do is keep my positive mentality and not get frustrated at all.”

The Mariners didn’t score until Bieber was out of the game.

Rojas hit a broken-bat double just fair the other way down the third-base line in the seventh inning, driving in Cal Raleigh from second base.

J.P. Crawford grounded out to drive in Ty France from third base to cut the Mariners’ lead to 5-2, but Scott Barlow got Julio Rodriguez to fly out to left field to end the inning, stranding Rojas and ending the Mariners’ best rally.

The Mariners’ lineup struck out 12 times and walked just twice.

“There was some good at-bats,” Servais said, “but at the end of the night, you know, the strikeouts, they will get you. That is an area that we’ve got to get better at. … I see some signs of it coming together. But just not consistently yet.”

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