Thrown for a curve early, M’s seek changes at plate vs. Guardians

With apologies to Clint Eastwood and his 2012 movie about an aging baseball scout, it’s the Seattle Mariners who have “Trouble with the Curve.”

And it seems, any other breaking pitch that opponents throw at them.

Heading into the finale of three-game series with the visiting Cleveland Guardians on Wednesday afternoon, the Mariners have struck out 66 times in six games, one behind Boston for the most in the American League. The Los Angeles Dodgers lead the National League with 76 strikeouts, but they’ve played two more games and have a team batting average of .293 compared with Seattle’s paltry .201.

Despite jettisoning the strikeout-prone Teoscar Hernandez, Jarred Kelenic and Eugenio Suarez in the offseason, it appears the Mariners still need to change their mindset.

“At the end of the night, strikeouts will kill you,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said after his players struck out 12 times Tuesday in a 5-2 loss to the Guardians. “It’s an area we need to work on.

“Our offense is not clicking yet. This team is still trying to figure themselves out.”

And until they do, it appears opponents will continue to feed the Mariners a diet high in breaking pitches.

“We’re not getting a ton of fastballs,” Servais said. “Until you start hitting the breaking pitches or the changeup, that’s what they’re gonna keep throwing. We know that.”

So what are the Mariners to do?

“I think it’s one of those things where you have to realize what they’re going to do to you and either lay off (the breaking pitches) or get it to where you need it and swing at the good ones,” said Mariners first baseman Ty France, who is 7-for-21 during a five-game hitting streak. “Until we can prove we can hit it, they’re going to keep doing it.”

Cleveland ace Shane Bieber threw six scoreless innings Tuesday, striking out nine, and Bo Naylor hit a two-run homer.

Bieber, the American League’s 2020 Cy Young Award winner, has yet to allow a run in 12 innings this season and has struck out 20.

“Just incredible on a night like (Tuesday). Cold, windy, and just dominating out there,” Guardians manager Stephen Vogt said of Bieber. “It’s really fun to watch, two times in a row. Just doing exactly what we needed him to do and give us a chance to win.”

The Guardians are scheduled to send left-hander Logan Allen (1-0, 5.40 ERA) to the mound Wednesday to oppose Seattle right-hander George Kirby (1-0, 0.00).

Allen went five innings in his season debut, giving up three runs on six hits in a 6-4 victory at Oakland on Friday. He didn’t walk a batter and struck out three but gave up two home runs. Allen will face the Mariners for the first time.

Kirby, who is 0-0 with a 2.00 ERA in two previous starts against the Guardians, beat Boston 1-0 on Friday in his most recent time out. He went 6 2/3 innings, allowed two hits, walked two and struck out eight, with J.P. Crawford’s solo homer providing the difference.

–Field Level Media