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Seattle Mariners

Mariners tripped up in Cleveland, dropping important series to Guardians

By Adam Jude Seattle Times

CLEVELAND – It was a promising start to an important series two days earlier, and then a promising start to Thursday’s series finale.

Neither ended well for the Mariners, who coughed up an early two-run lead in an eventual 6-3 loss to the Cleveland Guardians on a hot and humid Thursday afternoon at Progressive Field.

Luis Castillo was roughed up for five runs in five innings, and the Mariners offense couldn’t muster a late rally against MLB’s best bullpen.

“Obviously, not the result we were looking for,” M’s manager Scott Servais said. “Big game today. We were hoping to get this one. I think we all were.”

The AL Central-leading Guardians (46-26) clinched the season series 4-2 over the AL West-leading Mariners (44-33).

That’s notable because the two division winners with the best record in each league are rewarded with a first-round bye in the playoffs, and right now those byes would go to the Yankees and Guardians. And Cleveland has the tie-breaking advantage on the Mariners.

The Mariners looked primed to take the rubber match when Dylan Moore launched a home run to deep left field – just fair – for a two-run home run off Cleveland left-hander Logan Allen in the top of the first.

J.P. Crawford had led off the game with an infield single, and the Mariners were quickly leading 2-0.

Moore’s blast measured at 108.1 mph off the bat and 418 feet in distance. He has eight home runs this season – six on the road. He also homered in Cleveland Tuesday in the Mariners’ 8-5 win to open the nine-game road trip.

The Mariners, though, added on only one more run over the final eight innings.

“When you’re playing really good teams like this, every inning is so critical,” Servais said. “You can’t let your guard down, whether it’s two out and nobody on (on defense) or on the offensive side, you got to keep grinding, grinding.”

The Guardians got one run back in the bottom of the first on an unusual inning-ending double play.

With runners at the corners, rookie first baseman Tyler Locklear fielded a sharp ground ball, stepped on first base (for the second out) and threw to Crawford, who eventually tagged Andres Gimenez for the final out – but not before Steven Kwan scored from third base.

Will Brennan hit a solo homer in the second inning of Castillo to tie the score at 2.

“The lefties were on him today,” Servais said.

Brennan was one of seven left-handed hitters in the Guardians’ lineup, and those lefties combined for seven of the eight hits Castillo allowed.

“It’s very interesting and (it’s) a lot of talent those lefties have,” Castillo said through interpreter Freddy Llanos. “Unfortunately today, we were not able to get them out and they were able to do some damage to me.”

Mariners rookie Ryan Bliss hit a scorching two-out double off the wall in left field to drive in Ty France from second base, giving the M’s a 3-2 lead in the fourth.

France had been hit by a pitch and Victor Robles worked a walk to extend the inning for Bliss.

The lead didn’t last.

Allen worked around four walks to limit the damage, completing six innings with three runs allowed.

In the fifth, the Guardians scored three runs off Castillo – all with two outs.

Mitch Garver made his fifth start of the season at catcher – his first time working with any starter other than George Kirby – and he threw out Brayan Rocchio attempting to steal second base for the second out of the fifth inning.

But Castillo issued his first walk of the game to Kwan – Cleveland’s leadoff hitter who is flirting with a .400 batting average – and then left a change-up over the heart of the plate to Gimenez, who sent it 413 feet out to right-center for a two-run homer.

That gave the Guardians a 4-3 lead.

Jose Ramirez walked, stole second and scored on Josh Naylor’s double to right field to push the lead to 5-3.

“It’s such a tough lineup – a lot of talent over there,” Castillo said. “I tried to get out of that fifth inning. But, you know, they’re very aggressive; they like to swing at the ball, and unfortunately I wasn’t able to get out of it.”

In the seventh, Robles reached on a check-swing single and Bliss followed with a walk off of Cleveland lefty Tim Herrin.

Crawford followed with a flyout for the first out of the inning.

Stephen Vogt, Cleveland’s first-year manager, then turned to rookie right-hander Cade Smith.

Servais elected to stick with Moore – who has been torrid on the road this season – instead of turning to one of his left-handed-hitting options (Cal Raleigh, Luke Raley, Josh Rojas, Dominic Canzone). Moore got ahead 3-1 in the count before getting jammed on a 97-mph fastball and hitting into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.

“He worked himself into a great count. Their pitcher executed a pitch and got a big double-play ball. It happens,” Servais said. “Over the course of games, you’re trying to go with guys that are hot or doing well or you have a feel for it. It didn’t work out for us today.”

Smith retired Julio Rodriguez, the pinch-hitting Raleigh and France in the eighth.

Brennan hit his second homer of the game, a solo shot off Trent Thornton, with two outs in the eighth to make it 6-3.

Emmanuel Clase closed it out in the ninth for his 22nd save.

The Guardians improved to 23-9 at home.

The Mariners fell to 17-21 on the road.