I didn’t have much in the way of high hopes for this 4-game home set, in spite of Jarred Kelenic and Logan Gilbert getting the call-up. Nevertheless, Thursday’s game held the highest anticipation for me since Opening Day; it did end up disappointing, however.
The 4-2 defeat looks better than it actually was; the Mariners were held hitless through seven innings before a J.P. Crawford single and a Dylan Moore homer made it remotely interesting. Things got moderately more interesting in the ninth, as the M’s walked the bases loaded, but the Indians were able to escape.
Gilbert struggled somewhat in his four innings of work, giving up all four runs. His stuff looked good, though I would argue he kept catching too much of the plate, and hitters at this level aren’t going to miss when you do that, regardless of how hard you throw. No walks and five strikeouts are both great; but, obviously the two homers are far from ideal. Mixed bag of a first start for a guy the Mariners plan on handling with kid gloves (he was limited to 71 pitches, which is well below even what the plan was heading in; somewhere around 85, I believe).
As for Kelenic, he’s apparently our leadoff hitter now! Right out of the box, no slow ramp-up, no soft landing. Fucking, right into the fire. He went hitless in 4 at-bats, with a strikeout; but the Mariners all day only had 2 hits, so whatever.
The tide changed immediately afterward, starting on Friday, with a 7-3 victory. Kelenic went 3 for 4 with two doubles and a homer, two runs scored and three runs batted in. THAT’S the guy we all expected to see, and that’s the guy we figure to see a lot more of as he gets used to playing at this level. Mitch Haniger and Kyle Seager both hit homers as well, as the team combined for 10 hits.
Chris Flexen gave up only 1 run in 5.2 innings, and Kendall Graveman followed with 1.1 shutout innings. Erik Swanson added another inning of shutout relief before J.T. Chargois (never heard of him) stumbled in the ninth. Rafael Montero had to come in to lock it down for the 1-out save.
The Mariners followed this up with another 7-3 victory on Saturday. Kelenic had another rough day (no hits, 3 strikeouts), but Haniger and Dylan Moore both had homers, and recently called-up Donovan Walton had a triple to lead the way.
Justus Sheffield came away with a quality start (6 innings, 2 runs) and the bullpen did its job.
I was all set for the series split on Sunday, with Shane Bieber getting the start for the Indians. But, the Mariners had an excellent approach to the Cy Young winner, roughing him up for 3 runs in 4.2 innings, which turned out to be all the M’s would need on a bullpen day. Rafael Montero gave up our only two runs; everyone else pitched a shutout in the 3-2 victory.
I’ll say this much: Erik Swanson is looking like our second-best reliever at the moment (so, watch for the jinx to fuck him the next chance it gets). Rafael Montero should probably be DFA’d at some point, as other relievers return from injury, because he looks like a total lost cause.
It was another 0 for 5 for Kelenic in the weekend finale; he’s down to .167/.167/.444 in his 4-game career. I wouldn’t expect that to continue, but I also wonder how much longer we opt to keep him as our leadoff hitter. I get the team is excited and they want to cultivate excitement in the fanbase, but putting him at the top of our lineup right out of the gate seems a little extreme and unnecessary. We’ll be just as excited to see him batting 7th as we are now.
The Tigers come to town for three starting tonight; they are truly awful. So, this looks like a great opportunity to pick up some easy wins!