SeaSide Thoughts: A lucky split to open the season for the Mariners thanks to Julio

It was ugly, and the offense looked bad, but strong pitching and a man named Julio Rodriguez earned a split in the Mariners opening series of 2024.

Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners
Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners / Alika Jenner/GettyImages

Welcome back baseball! After a long winter, it was great to sit back and watch real baseball again. After a beautiful Opening Day pregame ceremony that saw Nelson “Boomstick Baby” Cruz retire as a Seattle Mariner, the Mariners took the field against the Boston Red Sox and were lucky to split the four-game series in a somewhat disappointing fashion.

As we will bring you every Monday for the entire Seattle Mariners season, here's our biggest thoughts and musings from the week that was.

SeaSide Thoughts: Week 1

Luis Castillo looked like how 2023 Luis Castillo ended

Luis Castillo had a fantastic 2023 season. He pitched an ace, was an all-star, and was the 2nd best pitcher in the American League for much of the season. He seemed poised to bring the Mariners back to the playoffs, before getting crushed at home in his final two starts against Houston and Texas. 

Those two losses exposed some of the potential weaknesses that Castillo showed in 2023, giving up the long ball at an alarming rate, and his stuff being almost too good, resulting in too many walks and a high pitch count that makes it difficult for him to go deep into games.

On Thursday night, that showed up again against a last place team from 2023. Against Rafael Devers, the one guy on Boston that you really need to be careful with, Castillo gave up a home run that put Seattle down 2-0 early. He had just two walks, but it took him 91 pitches just to get through 5 innings, surrendering 6 hits and 4 earned runs to go along with his 5 K’s.

Luis looked good, he's going to have a great season, but you expect your ace to deliver against what could be a horrible Red Sox team at home on Opening Day.

George & Logan saved the series

As we just discussed, it's extremely early in the season. That being said, nobody wants to have a start like what the Astros are dealing with. After a disappointing loss in game 1, George Kirby and Logan Gilbert helped Seattle get a series split. They showed their continued promising development, why showing they may be the best #2 and #3 pitchers in baseball.

Kirby made a Cy Young caliber statement on Thursday, going 6.2 I innings, giving up just two hits and two walks to go along with 8 K’ a in a 1-0 shutout win on Friday. On Saturday, Walter made his mark, as he went 7 innings, giving up just 1 run on 4 hits with 8 K’s on just 91 pitches.

More contact they said…

While the pitching overall was solid to spectacular, it was as equally as bad, scoring just 10 total runs in the four game split, while Boston Globe’s Pete Abraham poured salt in the wound, posting that the Mariners struck out a whopping 45 times in 35.1 innings…yikes!

It's early, and not having Mitch Garver (back spasms) has affected the lineup, and my confidence in him staying healthy for a full season. I believe, if healthy, Garver, Polanco and this lineup will step up and produce. Hard not to find humor in the offseason “contact focused” comments right now though. 

Fair or not, many fans will not be able to help themselves, and constantly check in on how Matt Chapman and Jorge Soler are doing down in San Francisco…

Welcome back Mitch Haniger

While the results of the offense were disappointing this weekend, the return of Mitch Haniger felt like a win on its own.

The Mariners legend from 2018-2022, Haniger returned to Seattle in the Robbie Ray deal, and quickly reminded us of how impactful he can be. Trailing 3-0 in the bottom of the 4th inning, Haniger smoked a line drive home run out to right field to help close the gap to 3-2. On the night, Mitch went 2-3 with a walk. 

Most importantly, he looked healthy and productive this weekend. With the high floor/ceiling potential that both Dom Canzone and Luke Raley possess, having a steady (and healthy) presence in Haniger could be crucial to stabilizing the Mariners lineup in 2024.

It wasn't the start we'd all hoped for, but Seattle has a chance to get the offense rolling as the Cleveland Guardians come to town, and the season debut of Emerson Hancock should be fascinating to see.

Go M’s