Saturday didn’t go quite as expected, following Thursday’s miracle victory over Corey Kluber on Opening Day. James Paxton took the hill for Game 2 and was supposed to dominate, as is his Canadian way. Instead, he was blasted for a first inning Grand Slam, and ultimately gave up 6 runs in just under 5 innings to take the L. The bullpen – led by Casey Lawrence’s 2.2 innings of shutout relief – kept the team in it, as the offense chipped away at the deficit. Homers by Haniger and Cruz (and RBI singles by Cano and Segura) made it a 6-5 game, but that’s where it remained, as the M’s really couldn’t do anything against Cleveland’s superior late-inning relief corps.
This put Sunday’s game in real jeopardy. Thankfully, the pitching and hitting were up to the task.
Mike Leake started off the year just as strong as he finished 2017, going 7 innings, giving up just 2 runs on 5 hits and 3 walks, while striking out 4. RBI doubles by Segura and Seager tied the game in the fifth inning, and homers by Gordon and Haniger put the game away in the seventh. Juan Nicasio did his damnedest to almost blow it in the eighth, with a 2-run homer given up. But, Edwin Diaz was on fire in the ninth to put the game away, and earn his second save of the short season.
Mitch Haniger is on an absolute tear through three games, with a double, 2 homers, 3 RBI, and a whopping 2.227 OPS. Cano, Cruz, and Gordon are all off to hot starts at the plate as well (though Cruz apparently twisted his ankle on Saturday – after his second homer in two games – and may or may not miss some extended time). Segura started to pick things up in yesterday’s game, and Ichiro and Seager have had their moments.
The defense played particularly well in this series, with Gordon flashing the leather all over the place. Ichiro stole a homer on Saturday. The backup catchers (with Zunino starting the season on the DL) have blocked a number of important pitches, and Ryon Healy – while doing nothing with his bat – has picked a number of tough balls on throws to first.
The injury to Cruz follows in a long line of hilarious injuries, as he did it while slipping on stairs in the dugout or some damn thing. I mean, what fucking ancient gypsy witch cursed this team? If you find out, let me know so we can cut her fucking heart out. I’d like to say when he and Zunino return, this team is going to look unstoppable on offense, but that would presume we won’t have another five injuries happen between now and then!
Still, pretty cool to take 2/3 against the Indians, who look great and figure to be in the hunt for the best record in baseball. Now, we hit the road, and for some reason have three more off-days in the next two weeks. We also feature as the opponent in home openers for San Francisco (tomorrow) and Minnesota (Thursday). Also, lots of day games in this stretch, so it’s truly one of the oddest starts to a season in recent memory.
Tomorrow, Marco Gonzales gets his first start of the season, before the rotation turns over with Felix again on Wednesday. Assuming Cruz won’t play the next few days, I’m curious to see what we’ve got in Dan Vogelbach. Ryon Healy already looks pretty miserable at the plate, and Vogelbach wasn’t able to muster much more than a few futile swings and misses in his start at DH yesterday. The long national nightmare of a black hole at first base continues apace.