Mariners struggle with errors and offense falters in series loss to Guardians
Heading into the season opener, hopes were high that the Mariners were going to continue with last year's strong play. They were going to have their hands full, but the Mariners had made moves to improve their offense, the pitching staff is strong, and the defense had been sound and solid under Perry Hill and Co.
Instead, the Guardians leave town with a 3-1 record, while the Mariners are asking some questions they definitely didn't expect to face this early in the season. Hey, at least Ty France and Julio are off to a good start. We are going to try something new this year, and examine a couple of questions that fans may have after each series. Let's get started.
What are the Mariners going to do with Robbie Ray on the Injured List?
That's definitely not how you want to start the year. Robbie Ray, after looking utterly dominant in Spring Training, struggled on Friday night. His velo was down, and he didn't look sharp at all, tying a 2022 season high with 5 walks in just 3.1 IP. News came out Saturday morning that Ray was headed to the injured list with a Grade One Flexor Strain. Nothing major, but it should keep him shut down for a couple weeks, and he could be back near the end of the month.
The cold definitely didn't help, and it's why he pitched through it as long as he did. This is a prime example as to why Dipoto kept Flexen and Marco on the team. Flexen closed out that game with four innings, looking a bit shaky at times but ending up allowing just one run. He will step into Ray's spot, and is slated to start against the Angels. The Mariners called up Gabe Speier, who will take over Flexen's spot in the bullpen.
What in the world was going on with the Mariners defense?
This part was ugly. Last year, if there was one thing that we could count on, it was going to be strong and smart defense. The Mariners were one of the best teams in baseball at preventing errors and in fielding percentage, yet they looked like they were stuck in Peoria still by making some bad plays against Cleveland.
After inducing a weak grounder, Penn Murfee got the force at home. We all expected Cal to fire one off to France at first to end the inning. Instead, he spiked it into the ground in front of Ty, the ball got passed him, and the Guardians would score to make it 6-5 in the 10th and hold on to win. Even earlier in the same game, JP and Julio didn't communicate, leading to a bloop double that should've been caught by either of them. It cost the Mariners the lead, and arguably the game.
Then, there was the incredibly wierd string of events in game 2. Teo catches a fly ball, and fires a missle towards home. The runner easily would've been thrown out, but the ball catches Zunino in the shoulder as he runs back to first. He was on the bag, so the ball is still live. It ricochets towards the third base dugout, where Robbie ray tries to spin and throw towards home plate. It's an awful throw, and gets past Cal, resulting in another run scoring. Instead of no runs scoring, two cross the plate. A sac fly later that should've ended the inning brings in another run, and the Guardians put up 3 instead of 0.
The Mariners are garbage, and aren't going to make the playoffs...
I keep seeing things like this online. Just chill out. It's one series, the Mariners didn't play well, and Cleveland looked great. The M's easily could've won this series. Castillo and Gilbert looked incredible. Marco even looked good outside of the mistake to Zunino. The bullpen is still money. We talk about the Mariners having a great bullpen, but they might just be chasing Cleveland for the title of greatest bullpen in baseball.
Things are going to be fine. I'll start to get worried if we are looking at a team that is somewhere around 3-8, but until then, my worriness is about a 2.5 on a scale of 1-10. Things are going to be fine, and the Mariners will look to get back on track against the Angels as they kick that series off tonight with George Kirby on the mound. Stay tuned later today for a series preview.