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Seattle Mariners

J.P. Crawford, Scott Servais ejected as frustrated Mariners fall 8-0 in Cleveland

Seattle Mariners manager Scott Servais (9) and third base coach Manny Acta, second from right, hold back shortstop J.P. Crawford after Crawford was ejected by home plate umpire Doug Eddings, right, during the fifth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field on Wednesday, June 19, 2024, in Cleveland.  (Tribune News Service)
By Adam Jude Seattle Times

CLEVELAND – From the first pitch of the game, the Seattle Mariners were behind.

And irate.

J.P. Crawford, visibly annoyed with the strike zone from umpire Doug Eddings, struck out in that first at-bat against Cleveland’s Tanner Bibee.

The Mariners shortstop struck out again in the third inning, and then a third time in the fifth inning, after which he slammed his helmet and got in Eddings’ face.

Crawford was immediately ejected. Manager Scott Servais was tossed out shortly thereafter, too.

And then things got really bad for the Mariners in an 8-0 loss to the Cleveland Guardians on Wednesday at Progressive Field.

“We all try to have good, competitive at-bats,” Crawford said afterward. “But, personally, when the at-bats get taken out of your hand from the very first pitch, it’s hard to come back from that.”

Seattle’s Bryan Woo, making his first start in 13 days, labored through a 30-pitch first inning and managed to complete just four innings, giving up three runs on four hits, with one walk and one strikeout.

“We knew there’d be a little rust,” Servais said. “That’s the concern any time a guy doesn’t pitch in 12, 13 days. You know, the command is usually the issue at times.”

Woo came in with a strict pitch count and the Guardians fouled off 22 of the 64 pitches he threw. He was asked afterward how he felt physically on the mound.

“Not great,” he said. “But it is what it is.”

In his seventh start, Woo was hit with his first loss of the season.

“Pretty bad,” Woo said. “Just not efficient. Walked the leadoff guy in the first inning, leads to a 30-pitch inning on an even lower pitch count (overall). … Just didn’t do my job.”

On an encouraging note, Woo did retire the final seven batters he faced – after surrendering a two-run homer to Steven Kwan in the second inning – and was able to effectively mix in some off-speed offerings.

Woo’s return, though, became the secondary storyline as the frustration with Eddings mounted among Mariners hitters through the first few innings.

“You certainly feel it building in the dugout – because those are balls,” Servais said. “Our leadoff hitter has one of the better eyes in the league, and when the first pitch of the game is 4 to 5 inches outside and it’s called a strike, there’s going to be issues.”

The 25-year-old Bibee, in his first start against the Mariners, struck out a career-high 12 over six shutout innings. The Mariners managed to put runners in scoring position just twice, and no runner got past second base.

Crawford, the AL leader in walks last season, did have reason to be irate.

Two of the pitches in his first at-bat were clearly balls. Two more in his final at-bat were borderline strikes, at best, at the top of the zone, including the called third strike.

“I’m not making excuses; I mean, the guy had his best stuff out there tonight. He pitched very well,” Crawford said.

The Mariners struck out 14 times and walked just twice, a notable step back for an offense that has shown signs of sustained improvement in June.

“It’s our first time seeing (Bibee), and there’s a reason he’s got really good numbers in this league,” Servais said. “He’s got really good stuff.”

Mike Baumann took over in relief of Woo in the fifth inning, just after Crawford’s ejection ended the top half of the inning, and things unraveled quickly for the Mariners.

With two outs, Jose Ramirez hit a bouncing ball to the right of rookie second baseman Ryan Bliss, who had entered the game as Crawford’s replacement (with Dylan Moore shifting over from second to short). Bliss fielded the ball cleanly on the move to his right, but he made an off-balance throw and the ball skipped twice before reaching Ty France at first base – and Ramirez beat it out.

A run scored on the play when Andres Gimenez hustled all the way from second and slid home ahead of the throw from France. That extended the Guardians’ lead to 4-0.

The next batter, Josh Naylor, turned on a 97-mph fastball from Baumann and hit it out to right field for a two-run homer, pushing the lead to 6-0.

The Mariners effectively waved the white flag after that.

Naylor added a solo homer off Eduard Bazardo in the seventh.

The Mariners (44-32) had their four-game winning streak snapped.

They will turn to Luis Castillo for the series rubber match on Thursday afternoon. It’s an important game in the landscape of the American League playoffs; the Mariners are chasing the AL Central-leading Guardians (45-26) for the No. 2 seed, which comes with a first-round bye.

“We’ve got to forget about [the loss],” Servais said. “We’re going to show up tomorrow with a chance to win a series against a good team here, and we’re certainly capable of doing that.”