The story coming into Thursday's game between Cleveland and the host Seattle Mariners (CLE 4, SEA 2) was the debut of two of the M's top prospects -- outfielder Jarred Kelenic, who was batting leadoff and manning left, and right-hander Logan Gilbert, who got the start. In Kelenic's case, he numbers among the best prospects in all of baseball, and the fact that he was acquired from the Mets as part of the Robinson Canó trade of late 2018 added to the ballyhoo.
For a brief time early on, it looked like Gilbert and Kelenic would announce their presence in the majors leagues quite loudly. Gilbert, with an easy delivery and working from the third base side of the rubber, leaned solely on his mid-90s fastball to get three batted ball outs in the first without allowing a baserunner. Along the way he picked up a swinging strike in that first inning.
Leading off the home half was Kelenic, and he jumped on a first-pitch fastball from Zach Plesac, and it looked like it might be trouble off the bat.
This, though, is where Cleveland began stealing bandwidth from the Mariners and their two gifted debutantes. First, check out the play Josh Naylor made on Kelenic's fly ball to right:
In the second, Gilbert threw four straight fastballs to Eddie Rosario and retired him on a fly-out to left. Then he threw his first breaking ball of the night, a knuckle curve that Franmil Reyes took for a strike. Gilbert went to the slider next, and Reyes did not miss:
That one left the bat at 111.3 mph and went 422 feet. In the third, Jose Ramirez homered off Gilbert to give him 11 for the season and put him alone at the top of the AL leaderboard. On the night, Gilbert wound up allowing four earned on five hits in four innings of work. He struck out five without issuing a walk. He got some swings and misses on his slider toward the end of his outing, and he topped out at 97 mph with the fastball.
Gilbert's counterpart, Plesac, is the other way in which Cleveland owned the night. Plesac leaned on his fastball and slider -- while still effectively mixing in his curve and changeup -- and didn't give up a hit until the eighth inning. J.P. Crawford lined a single to center, and thus Plesac was unable to keep his appointment with history. Plesac's command faltered that inning, and soon after Dylan Moore halved the Seattle deficit with a two-run blast to left. In the bottom of the ninth, the Mariners loaded the bases with two outs against Emmanuel Clase, but Bryan Shaw was able to close it out.
On the Seattle side, Kelenic wound up 0 for 3 in his major league debut, but he probably deserved a better fate. His sixth inning grounder to first base had an expected batting average of .380, but instead it turned into a 3-1 putout. Then in the eighth, Kelenic cracked one at 100.1 mph off the bat, but it died in front of the wall in left center for an out. That one had an expected batting average of .430.
The win allows Cleveland to keep pace in the AL Central and stay one game back of the MLB-best White Sox. The Mariners, meantime, drop their fifth in a row. The consolation, however, is that Kelenic and Gilbert each provided tantalizing glimpses of the future.