Aaron Civale doubters, watch yourself. He’s coming, and he’s got like 20 different pitches he can use to break your windows and dent that new siding you just had installed. He won’t even crack a smile while he’s doing it.
Even if Civale doesn’t wish to bring his revenge tour to physical violence, he did some nasty things to Mariners batters from the mound tonight that should make anyone worried about being on his bad side. He lead the Guards with a 2-0 shutdown performance and was potentially on track for a Maddux if he wasn’t pulled heading into the eighth inning.
Civale kept a formidable M’s offense on its toes utilizing five pitches, mostly his cutter, which seems to have a nice little boost compared to last season — an additional 0.2 mph and 13 rpm more rotation, on average. He also turned to the curveball 20 times, his four-seamer 17 times, and he mixed in a sinker (6) and splitter (5). Only two came back at him at over 100 mph, and both were outs.
He came out of the gate throwing everything — literally, all five of his pitches in the first inning — and only Julio Rodríguez managed to get on base.
Civale threw a little bit of everything that inning. pic.twitter.com/yWFzsfsrfO— Covering the Corner (@CovertheCorner) April 2, 2023
Civale probably served up a few more meatballs than he’d like overall — and those will be crushed if they keep appearing — but that cutter of his looks damn hard to hit, even when it’s over the middle of the plate. Now that Civale is (hopefully) healthy, he’ll keep learning and making the adjustments — because that’s just what Aaron Civale does.
The Mariners brought their own tinkerer in Logan Gilbert, who is working in a splitter, much like Civale developed last year. Civale’s experiment didn’t quite pan out, but it’s working so far for Gilbert, who held the Guardians to four hits and one run over his six innings of work. He also struck out seven.
That one run, if you were curious, was this 430-foot bomb from Josh Naylor. The first for Naylor, and the first for the Guards this season.
First home run of the year for Josh Naylor! #ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/Kjk7Neztlv— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) April 2, 2023
After Naylor took one of Gilbert’s few hanging breaking balls and deposited it in the outfield seats of T-Mobile Park, he almost also had an extra-base hit later in the game, too. Unfortunately, it was robbed by Teoscar Hernández’s only contribution for the Mariners this series.
Naylor’s home run would have probably been the leading story of this recap if it wasn’t for Andrés Giménez taking complete control of this game in the sixth inning. First, he covered for Amed Rosario on an awkward play at second base. Hear me out.
This is very much “random guy sitting on his couch thousands of miles away criticizing an athlete,” but it seems like Rosario should have done something to help here, no? Either make the play while you have the momentum toward second base or get ready for a flip.
All-Star. Gold Glove. Andrés Giménez. #ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/VG8HNPm6DF— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) April 2, 2023
Again, could be totally wrong here. This isn’t some eternal damnation of Rosario for this one play, it just looks a whole heck of a lot like he was bailed out. At worst, he knew he couldn’t make the play and he bailed to let his Gold Glove teammate handle it — there are far worse outcomes here. It’s just a thing that happened.
Now, what else did Giménez do? Oh yeah, how about yanking this heater that caught a bit too much of the plate 407 feet for his first home run of the year? That’ll do.
Friendly reminder. Andrés Giménez is HIM. #ForTheLand pic.twitter.com/eVe4rFtZ8o— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) April 2, 2023
Last year, Giménez hit 17 home runs on the way to his breakout, 6.1 fWAR season. Only one was hit harder than the 106.9 mph piss missile he unleashed in Seattle tonight.
With two runs in their pocket and James Karinchak narrowly avoiding the same exact meltdown he had on Opening Day, the Guardians turned to Emmanuel Clase to close it out, and boy did he. It took just eight pitches — four cutters and four sliders — to end the game and secure at least a tie in the first series of the season.
They go for the series win tomorrow at the mercifully early start time of 4:10 p.m. ET.