BRANDON GUSTAFSON

Mariners Highs and Lows: What stands out from opening day loss

Mar 28, 2024, 11:06 PM | Updated: Mar 29, 2024, 9:33 am

Seattle Mariners Mitch Haniger Dylan Moore...

Dylan Moore of the Seattle Mariners celebrates with Mitch Haniger on March 28, 2024. (Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

(Alika Jenner/Getty Images)

The Seattle Mariners didn’t start the season on the best of notes as they fell 6-4 to the Boston Red Sox on opening day.

Seattle Mariners drop opener 6-4 as Boston’s O’Neill makes history

As the score indicates, it was a close game, and the M’s brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth inning but were unable to keep the game going.

There were some high highs, such as the two homers the Mariners hit, but also some low points in the loss. Here’s what those were.

Mitch Haniger provides highlight in Seattle Mariners return

All four of the Mariners’ runs on Thursday came courtesy of the long ball.

Mitch Haniger, who returned to the Mariners this season after spending 2023 with the San Francisco Giants, got the scoring started for Seattle with a two-run blast to right field in the fourth inning. Dylan Moore also added a pinch-hit two-run homer of his own in the seventh, which scored Haniger after he singled earlier in the inning.

Welcome Back: Mitch Haniger blasts homer in Seattle Mariners return

“Haniger had a big night. Kind of a coming home party with the big home run and another single,” manager Scott Servais said.

Haniger had a big spring training, and Servais said just being back in a Mariners uniform “has springboarded him.” Haniger seemed to agree with that sentiment.

“I looked forward to this moment a lot. It’s good to be back in a Mariners uniform,” he said. “… I’ve been extremely grateful they brought me back, and it’s a lot of fun.”

What made Haniger’s homer stand out was that it was to the opposite field. Haniger has had plenty of hits to right field in his career, but he hasn’t hit too many home runs out that way.

“I’ve seen Mitch hit a lot of homers throughout his career, but that ball he hit to right field tonight, I haven’t seen him do that a lot,” Servais said. “Most of his home runs are to the pull side and to left-center. He’s in a really good spot mechanically with his swing. He feels good and we’ve got to keep him healthy. He’s really important to our lineup and our entire team.”

Haniger had some lofty praise for Seattle’s lineup once the game ended.

“I think we have a really good lineup, just a lot of good hitters. I think it’s probably the most complete lineup I’ve been a part of as a Mariner, and that’s really exciting,” he said. “Unfortunately it didn’t go our way tonight, but I really like the group of guys we have in the clubhouse and what each guy brings to the table. I think we’ll score a lot of runs this year.”

Mariners’ defense stands out, but as a negative

The Mariners were credited with just one error for the game, but the team’s defense stood out to Servais, and not in a good way.

“I didn’t think we played our cleanest game tonight. We had an error and a couple other plays we typically make that we didn’t and they took advantage of it,” he said.

The error was by starting third baseman Josh Rojas, who fielded a ball down the line and threw home to try and get the out at the plate. His throw hit baserunner Tyler O’Neill in the helmet, though, resulting in a run.

Later in the game, Dominic Canzone misjudged a ball in the left field corner. Canzone appeared to think the ball would ricochet off the wall towards him, but it didn’t. That helped result in a Ceddanne Rafaela triple rather than a double, and he scored soon after.

 

Later, Luis Urías, who entered the game for Rojas, threw late to first base with two outs after hesitating as a runner neared him, and a challenge from Boston resulted in an infield single for Trevor Story.

“The ball down in the left field corner that turned into a triple and Urías didn’t get rid of the ball (while) Story is running well down the line. You’ve got to have that internal clock set right … Little plays like that, we’ve certainly got to tighten up,” Servais said.

On the moun

Luis Castillo, making his second straight opening day start for Seattle, was solid early, but he wound up giving up four runs in five innings and wasn’t getting ahead of Red Sox hitters.

“It’s uncharacteristic. He just dominates the strike zone in the 0-0 counts and didn’t do it tonight,” Servais said of Castillo. “A lot of close pitches, they did not chase. They were really disciplined tonight … They controlled the strike zone a little bit better than we did tonight.”

Castillo acknowledged his command wasn’t his best after the game, including when he gave up a two-run home run to Rafael Devers on a sinker on the outer part of the plate.

“I think (the sinker) ran a little too high and he was able to connect with it. All merit to him,” Castillo said through an interpreter.

The Mariners and Red Sox continue their four-game set on Friday at 6:40 p.m., with George Kirby gets the start for the M’s against Boston’s Nick Pivetta, a native of nearby Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Listen to the action live on Seattle Sports 710 AM and the Seattle Sports app, with pregame coverage beginning at 5:30 p.m.

After throwing out first pitch, Nelson Cruz retires with Seattle Mariners

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