Here is the situation:
You have a one-run lead with two outs in the sixth inning. The game-tying run is standing on third base. Your starting pitcher is at 96 pitches and has given up a hit to five of the last 10 batters he has faced. The batter coming to the plate laced an RBI double into the left field corner in his last at-bat. The opposing team’s best hitter is in the on-deck circle.
What do you do?
Well, Terry Francona decided to take his chances with Aaron Civale in that situation, and Civale rewarded his faith by surrendering a two-out RBI double to J.P. Crawford, tying the game and effectively erasing what was once a 3-0 lead for the Cleveland Guardians.
The inning only furthered spiraled from there. Francona finally gave Civale the hook, only to bring in Nick Sandlin(!?) to face Julio Rodríguez with the go-ahead run in scoring position. Sandlin got two strikes on Rodríguez but the third strike eluded him, and he eventually hung a slider that Rodríguez narrowly deposited over the left field wall for a two-run homer.
That was all she wrote for the Guardians, who dropped their home opener, 5-3, to the Seattle Mariners in a game that seemed to be following the script through the first four innings.
Civale was able to extend his scoreless streak against Seattle to 11 innings, before the Mariners finally broke through against him in the fifth inning. He gave up a leadoff single to Cooper Hummel, who then scored from first on a J.P. Crawford RBI double to break up the shutout. Ty France’s RBI single cut Cleveland’s lead to 3-2. His final line consisted of nine hits, one walk, and four earned runs over 5.2 innings of work. It was a far cry from Civale’s season debut, but facing the same team in back-to-back starts isn’t always the easiest task.
The Guardians’ offense started chipping away at Mariners starting pitcher Logan Gilbert from the first inning. With two outs and the bases loaded, Amed Rosario scored on a wild pitch to give Cleveland the early lead. Josh Bell delivered a two-out RBI single in the third inning to give Rosario another chance to cross the plate, extending the lead to 2-0. Myles Straw delivered their third and final run in the fourth inning with a two-out RBI single.
But the bats fell silent from there. Over the final five frames, all the Guardians could muster was one walk and one hit as the Mariners scored five unanswered runs.