Mariners, Red Sox Split Four-Gamer to Kick off 2024 Season

On Thursday night in Sodo, baseball was officially all-the-way-back. For some, it’s new hope for some sort of positivity in the local sports world. Yes, if you’re a UW Alum/fan, you had your Huskies make it to the Natty in football, and your basketball team just hired their new lead guy, as well as Athletic Director Pat Chun – who travelled approximately five hours east from the small college town that is Pullman, WA.

But with the Mariners, Seahawks and Sounders all missing out on playoff contention last season, and the Kraken about to miss the postseason here in about half a month, something has to give here this MLB season!

The M’s opened up their 46th season as a franchise Thursday against the Boston Red Sox for four at T-Mobile Park. The Sox, who have always been finding themselves in the playoffs over the last decade plus, have actually finished dead last in the American League East both times in the past two seasons. They feature a lineup of 2x Silver Slugger Rafael Devers, Japanese-born stud Masataka Yoshida, former-Mariner Tyler O’Neill and pitchers including Brayan Bello, Nick Pivetta and closer, and current-saves leader, Kenley Jansen.

Though the official start to the 2024 MLB season occurred earlier in the week with the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers squaring off twice in South Korea, Thursday is where the 2024 MLB season kicked off for the Seattle Mariners.

Opening Day featured a night game in front of 45,337 Seattle and Boston faithful. It was 3x All-Star Luis “La Piedra” Castillo set to face off against 24-year-old Dominican-born Brayan Bello.

Two scoreless for both to start until Raffy Devers said to hell with this “Marine Layer” idea. He punished a high-and-outside Castillo sinker the opposite way for his first home run of the season, a two-run shot. The Sox added on in the top half of the fourth thanks to a Ceddanne Rafaela grounder to Josh Rojas, who fired home to attempt to nab O’Neill, but instead plunked him on the head as he went into his slide. It was a perfect throw by the Mariners’ third baseman, but just an unfortunate turn of events.

As Boston had grown their lead to three, in stepped Mitch Haniger – and to that we say, “welcome back, old friend”. Mitch went oppo on a first-pitch sinker that cleared the right field fence with Cal Raleigh aboard at first. This got Seattle within one.

Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners

Outfielder Mitch Haniger has hit plenty of home runs for the Seattle Mariners in his career, but Thursday was the first time he'd done so with the trident involved. His two-run blast got Seattle within one run on Opening Day Thursday.Photo: Alika Jenner / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Triston Casas of the Boston Red Sox brought home Jarren Duran on a force out to again extend the lead, this time by one more.

Both starting pitchers were done after five complete innings:

  • L. Castillo: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 5 K, 2 BB
  • B. Bello: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 K

Maple Valley’s own Tayler Saucedo came into relieve La Piedra, but was instantly met by Rafaela who tripled, and then scored on a Connor Wong single.

In the seventh, super utility-man Dylan Moore was called upon to pinch hit for starting outfielder Dominic Canzone. With Haniger aboard via a single, D-Mo smashed a 90 MPH lower-half sinker 409 feet over the head of Durran in CF to get Seattle within one again.

Top 8, Tyler O’Neill at the dish facing off against righty Cody Bolton. The former-Mariner had hit a home run in the past FOUR opening days leading up to Thursday, which had him tied for the MLB record. On the first pitch he faced, he made it FIVE. An unusual, yet pretty awesome stat to be standalone tied to. Unfortunately for Seattle, it was a very important insurance run for the Sox.

Kenley Jansen came in for the save on Opening Night. After walking Mitch Haniger, he got two of the next three Mariners to K, and it was not the start the 2024 Seattle Mariners were looking for as they fell by a score of 4-6.

George Kirby toed the slab on a sunny, yet brisk, Friday night against 31-year-old Nick Pivetta.

Skipping straight to the chase from Friday: Pitcher’s duel, strikeouts aplenty, J.P. Crawford, and Andres Munoz.

An improbable start for Kirby who walked two of the first three batters he faced – though neither came back to bite him as he escaped top one scoreless.

Let’s fast forward to the home sixth because finally, there was life for Seattle’s offense. It was J.P. Crawford, better known as “John Power Crawford”, who snuck his first home run of the ’24 campaign just fair past the right field foul pole. A solo shot capped with a wonderful bat flip had the M’s up one.

Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners

Shortstop J.P. Crawford has strength, and swagger. His solo home run Friday proved to be an important deiciding factor in the overall result on Friday night in Seattle. Photo: Alika Jenner / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Outside of the blast Pivetta gave up to Seattle’s shortstop, he was nails. Unfortunately for him, Kirby was even better. George finished with eight strikeouts over six plus innings, allowing just two hits. He was also seen postgame sporting an “Angry George’s Dreamland” t-shirt – which featured an angry Kirby (from the video games) gripping a bloody cartoon knife.

Gabe Speier and Ryne Stanek combined for one inning of work before setting it up for Closer Andres Munoz. A debatable looking strikeout to Casas, followed by dominance to Rafaela and Pablo Reyes as Munoz k’d the side and Seattle won a nail-biter, 1-0.

Now with the four-game set tied at one apiece, it was time for Logan “Walter” Gilbert to lead the M’s to win No. 2 on the early MLB season. His competition was righty Kutter Crawford, who has the most pitcher name of all time.

Again, it was Mitch Haniger who jolted some sort of life into Seattle’s bats. After J.P. bunted his way into a single to open up the home first, he advanced into scoring position on the same play thanks to a throwing error. Haniger brought him home on a two-out, two-strike RBI single to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead. Following the first, the bats went radio silent.

Thankfully, the pitching bailed out the hitting throughout Saturday, (very much like Friday). Gilbert was as, if not more, dominant than his pal George Kirby from Friday. Logan struck out eight across seven complete, allowing just four hits, walking one.

Speier and righty Austin Voth combined for five strikeouts following Gilbert’s exit after seven, but then Boston was able to bounce ahead in extras.

After a failed bunt-him-over attempt, it was Pablo Reyes who singled home the ghost runner to give the Sox the lead. Then Masa Yoshida brought home Reese McGuire to extend the lead.

Needing two to extend Saturday night, and three to win it outright, Luke Raley’s broken bat looper to left got Seattle within one in bottom ten. Josh Rojas followed Luis Urias with a single to move Raley to third. Now with the tying run at third and winning run at second (fielder error on Rojas single), it was back to the top of the lineup.

J.P. hit a weak ground ball with the infield in right at Enmanuel Valdez, but Raley showed off his sneaky wheels and slid home safely to knot it up at three. An emotional Raley after the safe call seemed to feed off of who was due at the plate next…

Looking for his first ever walk off, game-winning hit, the J-Rod Show was about to begin. Righty Justin Slaten’s name was called for the first time ever (MLB Debut) and was thrown directly into the fire. Down 3-1 in the count to Julio, Slaten attempted a sweeper to throw off the 2x Silver Slugger. It was no match, as Julio’s inside-out swing resulted in a base hit to right center and the party was on. Lifeless until extras, Seattle miraculously won the ten-inning thriller by a score of 4-3.

Boston Red Sox v Seattle Mariners

George Kirby and Ty France sure found Julio Rodriguez's new hat quite entertaining. Rodriguez sported the Dubble Bubble bucket following a game-winning base hit Saturday night, the first of his young career. Photo: Alika Jenner / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Looking to take series number one of the season, it was the former-Texas A&M Aggie Bryce Miller on the mound, facing off with righty Garrett Whitlock.

After striking out the side to kick off Easter Sunday, Bryce Miller surrendered a solo bomb to Tyler O’Neill in the top of the second – his second home run of the series. But Seattle responded with one of their own in the bottom half, thanks to a two-out RBI single by Josh Rojas, who had a very solid first series – one of the lone bright spots on the offensive sides.

Top four and 1-1 the score, and here came the Red Sox. A Miller walk and O’Neill single set up Enmanuel Valdez with two on and one out. An extremely questionable non-call on a check swing made the count to Valdez 3-1 as opposed to 2-2… and next pitch, that non-call loomed large, as Valdez went large with a three-run blast to right.

Like the past two nights (outside of the tenth inning Saturday), the offense was hidden, and could not be found.

Adam Jude, Seattle Times Staff Reporter tweeted (or X’d??) about the slow start for Seattle’s bats:

Despite the two HRs allowed by Bryce Miller, there were signs of strength in start #1 for the young right-hander. His day was done after five complete, allowing six hits and four earned (on those two HRs), punching out six.

The M’s finished the day with just four hits, as they fell in the finale by a score of 5-1.

Seattle will be staying in the PNW as they welcome in Jose Ramirez, Shane Bieber and the Cleveland Guardians. Cleveland opened up the season down at the Oakland Coliseum against the lowly Athletics. Cleveland won the first three of four, but lost Sunday via a rare walk off walk.

Over the four games against the future-Las Vegas A’s, the Guards scored 29 runs. Some enticing pitching matchups upcoming for the three-game set, Monday-Wednesday.

Pitching probables for CLE @ SEA:

  • Monday 4/1 @ 6:40 PM PST: RHP Triston McKenzie vs. RHP Emerson Hancock
  • Tuesday 4/2 @ 6:40 PM PST: RHP Shane Bieber (1-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Luis Castillo (0-1, 7.20 ERA)
  • Wednesday 4/3 @ 1:10 PM PST: LHP Logan Allen (1-0, 5.40 ERA) vs. RHP George Kirby (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

American League West standings as of Sunday 3/31 @ 5:00 PM PST:

  1. Texas Rangers (2-1)
  2. Seattle Mariners (2-2)
  3. Los Angeles Angels (1-2)
  4. Oakland Athletics (1-3)
  5. Houston Astros (0-4)

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