Seattle’s fans are known for being so loud they annually draw the most false-start penalties in the NFL.
It seems they’ve taken that same approach across the street to T-Mobile Park.
Mariners manager Scott Servais and his players credited the sold-out crowd for helping them to a 3-0 victory Thursday in the season opener against the Cleveland Guardians.
The four-game series continues in Seattle on Friday night, when Mariners left-hander Robbie Ray (12-12, 3.71 ERA last season) will try to keep the momentum going. Ray is 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA in four career appearances against Cleveland, including three starts.
With Triston McKenzie on the injured list with a strained teres major muscle in his right shoulder, the Guardians are set to start rookie right-hander Hunter Gaddis (0-2, 18.41 ERA last season). Gaddis will be facing the Mariners for the first time.
“I don’t think it’s fair to ask Hunter to do what Triston did,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “But hopefully between a couple guys we can figure it out.”
In Thursday’s opener, the crowd came alive in the bottom of the eighth inning in a scoreless tie.
Cleveland reliever James Karinchak got two quick strikes on leadoff hitter J.P. Crawford before being called for a pitch-clock violation. That sparked the fans and seemed to unnerve Karinchak, whose next pitch sailed to the backstop.
With the crowd roaring, Crawford checked his swing on a high 3-2 pitch. It was so loud, home-plate umpire Mark Carlson couldn’t hear Crawford had actually fouled the ball off, causing it to pop out of catcher Mike Zunino’s glove. Carlson checked with third-base umpire Brennan Miller to see if Crawford swung. Miller ruled Crawford hadn’t, giving him a base on balls. Francona argued to no avail that Crawford had fouled it off.
“Got to thank the fans for that one,” Crawford said. “They won that game for us. Got ball one and the fans got into it. And then Ty (France) came through.”
After Kolten Wong was hit by a pitch, France hit a 1-1 offering down the right-field line and just over the fence for a deciding three-run homer. France was 3-for-4 and also doubled.
“With James (Karinchak), it was getting loud, he was having trouble hearing,” Francona said. “… I don’t know if it was the clock or the situation, but it was noisy. The atmosphere really got more lively in that inning.”
As inning after inning passed without any runs, Servais admitted he started thinking back to last year’s home finale, which the Mariners lost 1-0 in 18 innings to Houston in an American League Division Series.
“You really never know if there’s going to be carryover from year to year, but it felt that way,” said Servais, whose team reached the postseason for the first time since 2001 last fall. “There were a lot of good vibes. When it got louder in the ballpark, things started to happen.
“We’ve seen Karinchak a lot in the past, and he has a routine, a very lengthy routine. He’s had to try to make adjustments with that, the things he does with the ball flipping and everything else. It was a little bit out of whack, and a credit to our crowd. They got loud. They got it. They made it hard for him to focus and concentrate. And that’s truly the impact home-field advantage can make in our game.”
–Field Level Media