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Guardians’ ailing pitching staff aims to slow Mariners

Sep 2, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Seattle Mariners catcher Cal Raleigh (29) rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

After not seeing each other for more than a year, the Cleveland Guardians and Seattle Mariners have become quite familiar with each other over the past 10 days.

The Guardians and Mariners will meet for the sixth time in that span when they play the middle game of a three-game series on Saturday night in Cleveland.

Seattle has won five in a row overall and four of the past five against the Guardians after taking the series opener 6-1 on Friday night.

The Guardians had a setback even before the set began, placing their scheduled starters for the Friday and Saturday games on the injured list.

Zach Plesac was scratched from his Friday start with a broken right (pitching) hand. The injury occurred when he pounded the ground in frustration after allowing a home run in the seventh inning of a 4-3 victory in Seattle on Aug. 27.

Cody Morris made his major league debut in Plesac’s spot but lasted just two innings, giving up three runs (two earned) and four hits and taking the loss.

Morris is the 15th player for the Guardians to make his major league debut this season.

Despite the loss, Cleveland maintained its one-game lead over the Minnesota Twins atop the American League Central.

The Mariners are tied atop the AL wild-card standings with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Many are predicting Seattle and Cleveland will collide in the postseason.

“These teams are very similar,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “They pitch very well. They’ve got a very deep bullpen and they play very good defense. I think we match up very well against them and they match up well against us.”

The game on Saturday also was supposed to be a rematch between starting pitchers Robbie Ray of the Mariners and Aaron Civale of the Guardians, who met last Sunday. However, Civale was placed on the 10-day IL on Friday because of right forearm inflammation.

“When you start hearing forearm/elbow, you get nervous,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “Structurally (the MRI) came back really good, so that’s the good news. He had some inflammation.”

Ray blanked Cleveland on three hits over seven innings in the 4-0 win on Sunday, while Civale gave up four runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings.

“Putting up zeros is the name of the game,” Ray said afterward.

Ray (11-8, 3.58 ERA) is coming off an outstanding month of August overall, as he went 3-0 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts.

“He throws the fastball to both sides of the plate and then he spins it under your barrel,” Francona said of Ray. “Their entire staff is extremely impressive. It doesn’t mean you can’t win, but you’ve got your work cut out for you.”

Ray’s win against Cleveland last weekend was his lone decision against the Guardians in three career appearances, including two starts. He has a 1.29 ERA in those games.

Amed Rosario is 5-for-10 with three doubles off Ray in his career, but struck out three times against the lefty on Sunday.

The Guardians recalled left-hander Xzavion Curry from Triple A-Columbus to make the start in place of Civale, who had gone nine straight starts without a win.

Curry (0-0, 5.40 ERA) made his only career major league appearance on Aug. 15, when he allowed three runs and eight hits in five innings during Cleveland’s 7-5 loss to the Detroit Tigers.

–Field Level Media