A day after lamenting that his team played a “bad” game, Seattle manager Scott Servais had to find the words to describe another defeat that somehow seemed even worse after a 7-0 drubbing by the host Cleveland Indians in a game that didn’t even seem that close.
“Not a ton to talk about tonight, obviously,” Servais said.
There certainly wasn’t much to say about the Mariners’ offensive production or lack thereof. They were shut out for the eighth time this season as they were held to two hits — the first batter and the second-to-last batter. And they struck out 11 times. Cleveland starter Aaron Civale was brilliant for seven of his eight innings, allowing just one hit with 11 strikeouts and one walk.
Civale gave up a lead-off single to J.P. Crawford and then loaded the bases with two outs by hitting Ty France and walking Jake Fraley. But when he got Shed Long Jr. to ground out to first to end the inning, it was the first of 22 hitters retired in order.
“We got dominated by a pretty good starting pitcher,” Servais said. “It’s a guy we’ve seen a month or so ago when they were in Seattle. I thought we did a nice job that night.”
That game was May 14 at T-Mobile Park. The Mariners scored five runs on seven hits off Civale in what was a 7-3 Seattle victory. They didn’t even have seven base runners Friday.
“Tonight, he really relied on the cutter and a ton of curveballs,” Servais said. “And we did not handle it well at all. He threw a ton of cutters tonight and back doors to the lefties. He probably threw more of those and more curveballs tonight than we saw last time out. But going into the game, you know that’s his pitch. We just couldn’t do anything with it tonight.”
Blake Parker allowed Seattle’s other hit — a single to Mitch Haniger in the ninth — but kept the Mariners scoreless.
It was the Mariners’ seventh loss in 10 games.
Activated from the 10-day injured list before the game, Mariners starting pitcher Justin Dunn provided a less than desirable outing, lasting only three innings and giving up five runs on nine hits with two walks, a hit batter and three strikeouts.
After feeling shoulder fatigue following his last start May 29, Dunn was placed on the injured list out of precaution. It became clear after a few days he would be there for only the 10-day minimum and miss one start, which seemed fortunate for the Mariners considering the amount of pitching injuries they’ve endured this season.
But against a Cleveland lineup featuring mostly switch hitters and left-handed hitters, Dunn pitched like he had been out for a month, showing minimal feel with his fastball command.
“I won’t put it all on that,” Dunn said of the rust. “There was definitely a couple pitches that didn’t feel quite as sharp as before, but I’m also a professional and I need to be able to go out and execute pitches. That’s my job.”
He needed 29 pitches to record his first out of the game. It came after he’d walked the first batter — though an 0-2 pitch could’ve been called a strike. He then gave up back-to-back singles to load the bases. Eddie Rosario drove in one run with a single and then Dunn walked Bobby Bradley to force another run across.
The first out was a strikeout of Harold Ramirez, but it was only a brief reprieve.
The second out came on Josh Naylor’s run-scoring single when center fielder Dillon Thomas threw out Rosario at the plate as he tried to score.
Dunn finally ended the miserable first inning by striking out Austin Hedges. It took 36 pitches in an outing where he wasn’t going to pitch more than 80 due to the shoulder inflammation.
“It’s been a while since he’s been out there,” Servais said. “He was not especially sharp. They did get some softer hits in the first inning. And then he really struggled to kind of control any counts. It starts right there. His stuff was fine. He just didn’t command it very well.”
The remainder of the start didn’t get much better for Dunn. He gave up a run-scoring single to Jose Ramirez in the second inning and was saved from more damage by an inning-ending double play.
But perhaps the worst aspect of his outing came in his third and final inning, and it wasn’t the leadoff homer to Bradley. With two outs, Dunn had a 93-mph fastball get away from him on a 2-2 count to Cleveland catcher Austin Hedges. The ball rode right into Hedges’ face, striking him mostly on the extended jaw guard and knocking him to the ground. Dunn was visibly shaken up as Hedges was laid out on the ground and Cleveland manager Terry Francona and the training staff attended to him.
“You never want to see that, especially in the head area,” Dunn said. “It was one of those pitches where it kind of got away. So to see that ball ride up there was definitely tough. I’m definitely praying for him and I hope he’s feeling better and he’s able to get back out on the field. That was awfully tough to see.”
Hedges was able to get to his feet and remained in the game for another inning before leaving in the top of the fifth.
Dunn was able to collect himself and keep pitching. He gave up a single and then struck out Cesar Hernandez to end the inning.
With Dunn throwing 74 pitches, Servais was forced to go to the bullpen with his team trailing 5-0. Dunn threw first-pitch strikes to 11 of 19 batters and 49 total strikes.