MLB Baseball

Final 1 2 3   4 5 6   7 8 9   R H E
Cleveland4 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 660
Seattle0 1 2 0 0 2 0 0 0 5100
  W: C. Carrasco (1-0)   L: J. Paxton (0-1)   S: C. Allen (1)
1:10 PM PT2:10 PM MT3:10 PM CT4:10 PM ET16:10 ET20:10 GMT4:10 1:10 PM MST3:10 PM EST3:40 PM VEN0:10 UAE (+1)3:10 PM CT, March 31, 2018
Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington  Attendance: 35,881

Indians, Mariners go with backup aces

SEATTLE -- Call this Opening Day II.

At least, it feels that way for the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners, after having a day off following Thursday's opener of the season-opening, three-game series.

And the pitching matchup Saturday afternoon at Safeco Field is nearly worthy of an opening day, with Cleveland right-hander Carlos Carrasco going up against Mariners left-hander James Paxton.

The case could be made those pitchers are No. 1A starters instead of No. 2s.

Carrasco went 18-6 with a 3.29 ERA last season when he tied for the American League lead in victories and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting. Teammate Corey Kluber, who started the opener Thursday, won the award.

Indians manager Terry Francona named Kluber the Opening Day starter early in spring training.

"You know what, though? Other guys could do it," Francona told at the time. "I mean, shoot, in the playoffs last year we put Trevor (Bauer) first and Kluber second and Trevor pitched a heck of a game.

"Carrasco is one of the top handful of guys in the league. But I think when you've got a guy (Kluber) who's won the Cy Young a couple times ... it's an easy choice."

Paxton became the Mariners' No. 1 starter last season when longtime ace Felix Hernandez was sidelined by injuries and pitched fewer than 100 innings.

Despite making only two appearances in spring training, King Felix got the call on Thursday for his 10th consecutive opening day start, pitching 5 1/3 scoreless innings as the Mariners won, 2-1.

Paxton, who went 12-5 with a 2.98 ERA last season and was named the AL's Pitcher of the Month in July when he won all six of his starts, said earlier this week that he had no problem with Hernandez starting Game 1.

"I think it's great," Paxton told The Seattle Times. "I'm happy that he's feeling so good. I know he hasn't thrown a ton (in) camp, but the times he has been out there, he's been very strong. He looks great. I think he's excited about making that start. I think everyone else here is excited about having him get on the mound."

The Mariners hope to have starting catcher Mike Zunino back. He was a late scratch from the opener after experiencing stiffness during batting practice Wednesday.

Backup Mike Marjama filled in admirably considering he had never caught Hernandez, but gave the Mariners a scare in the second inning when he was called for catcher's interference when hit on the back of the mitt by Cleveland's Edwin Encarnacion.

Marjama dropped to his knees in pain and shook off his mitt, but was checked by the team's training staff and was deemed fit to continue. Backup infielder Andrew Romine is Seattle's emergency backup.

"Marjama might have been the MVP of the game for me," said Mariners manager Scott Servais, himself a former catcher. "It was a great night for our pitching staff and I have to give Marjama a ton of credit. Especially when he got hit on the catcher's interference. I was a little scared of where we were going to go at that point, but he really gutted it out for us."

Marjama told "I didn't have an option. We don't really have anybody else right now. It was just (time to) suck it up and keep going."

Updated March 30, 2018

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