Mariners tripped up in Cleveland, dropping important series to Guardians

Adam Jude, The Seattle Times on

Published in Baseball

CLEVELAND — It was a promising start to an important series two days earlier, and then a promising start to Thursday’s series finale.

Neither ended well for the Mariners, who coughed up an early two-run lead in an eventual 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Guardians on a hot and humid Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field.

Luis Castillo was roughed up for five runs in five innings, and the Mariners offense couldn’t muster a late rally against MLB’s best bullpen.

The AL Central-leading Guardians (46-26) clinched the season series, 4-2, over the AL West-leading Mariners (44-33).

That’s notable because the two division winners with the best record in each league are rewarded with a first-round bye in the playoffs, and right now those byes would go to the Yankees and Guardians. And Cleveland now has the tie-breaking advantage on the Mariners.

The Mariners looked prime to take the rubber match when Dylan Moore launched a no-doubter to deep left field — just fair — for a two-run home run off Cleveland left-hander Logan Allen in the top of the first.

J.P. Crawford had led off the game with an infield single, and the Mariners were quickly leading 2-0.

Moore’s blast measured at 108.1 mph off the bat and 418 feet in distance. He has eight home runs this season — six of which have come on the road. He also homered here Tuesday in the Mariners’ 8-5 win to open this nine-game road trip.

The Guardians got one run back in the bottom of the first on an unusual inning-ending double play.

With runners at the corners, rookie first baseman Tyler Locklear fielded a sharp ground ball, stepped on first base (for the second out) and then threw to Crawford, who eventually tagged Andres Gimenez for the final out — but not before Steven Kwan scored from third base. (Run counted.)

Will Brennan hit a solo homer in the second inning of Castillo to tie the score at 2-2.

Mariners rookie Ryan Bliss hit a scorching two-out double off the wall in left field to drive in Ty France from second base, giving the M’s a 3-2 lead in the fourth inning.

France had been hit by a pitch (of course he was) and Victor Robles worked a walk to extend the inning for Bliss.

The lead didn’t last.


In the fifth, the Guardians scored three runs off Castillo — all with three outs.

Castillo issued his first walk of the game to Steven Kwan — who is flirting with a .400 batting average — and then let a change-up over the heart of the plate to Gimenez, who sent it 413-feet out to right-center for a two-run homer. That gave the Guardians a 4-3 lead.

Jose Ramirez walked, stole second and then scored on Josh Naylor’s double to right field to push the lead to 5-3.

In the seventh, Robles reached on a check-swing single and Bliss followed with a walk off Cleveland lefty Tim Herrin.

Crawford followed with a flyout for the first out of the inning.

Stephen Vogt, Cleveland’s first-year manager, then turned to rookie right-hander Cade Smith.

Mariners manager Scott Servais elected to stick with Moore — who has been torrid on the road this season — instead of turning to one of his left-handed-hitting options (Cal Raleigh, Luke Raley, Josh Rojas, Dominic Canzone).

Moore got ahead 3-1 in the count before getting jammed on a 97-mph fastball and hitting into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.

Smith retired Julio Rodriguez, the pinch-hitting Raleigh and France in the eighth.

Brennan hit his second homer of the game, a solo shot off Trent Thornton, with two outs in the eighth to make it 6-3.

Emmanuel Clase closed it out in the ninth for his 22nd save.

The Guardians improved to 23-9 at home.

The Mariners fell to 17-21 on the road.

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