“I take that to heart. There’s only so much I can do in the beginning of the at-bat,” Kwan said. “But if I can kind of set the tone for everybody else and that’s really important.”
Kwan’s soft double in the fourth inning that barely landed fair ended the night for Seattle starter Robbie Ray and gave Cleveland a 5-3 lead. Ray (0-1) produced a dud of a debut to this season after he looked impressive in spring training, walking five and recording just 10 outs in his 91 pitches.
“I just hit it and was praying. I don’t think in that moment you’re really conceptualizing anything,” Kwan said. “You’re just reacting and just watch.”
Kwan followed an inning later with a two-out, two-run single on a 3-2 pitch from Trevor Gott.
Cleveland also capitalized on a combination of bad luck and bad defense by Seattle that led to five unearned runs.
The Guardians’ first two runs scored when Teoscar Hernández’s throw from right field clipped Mike Zunino as he returned to first base and created chaos. The ricochet sent the ball offline toward the Cleveland dugout and allowed Oscar Gonzalez to tag up and score from third. Ray was first to the loose ball, but his throw to the plate to get Gonzalez was wide of catcher Cal Raleigh and rolled to the Seattle dugout, allowing Andrés Giménez to score from second base.
“Our base running was excellent. We made them fight for everything,” Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. “Zunino got in the way of that throw and I know that’s not by design, but that really helped us. Our base running then took over from there and really helped.”
In the fifth inning, Kolten Wong dropped the feed from shortstop J.P. Crawford at second base on a potential inning-ending double play. Cleveland went on to score three unearned runs in the inning, including Kwan’s single and an RBI single from Amed Rosario.
“That was very uncharacteristic to how we usually play,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “Was really not our best night, the combination of the walks and miscues in the field, and a team that does a really good job of putting the ball in play.”
Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Julio Rodríguez led off with a double, his first hit of the year. He added an RBI double in the fourth off Kwan’s glove in left field. Raleigh also had a two-run double, but Seattle was held scoreless by Cleveland’s bullpen.
Nick Sandlin (1-0), Eli Morgan, Enyel De Los Santos, Trevor Stephan and Emmanuel Clase combined for 5 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing two hits with eight strikeouts.
Guardians: RHP Aaron Civale was 5-6 with a 4.92 ERA in 20 starts last season for Cleveland. He has a 5.50 ERA in three career appearances against Seattle.
Mariners: RHP Logan Gilbert is 1-1 in three career starts against Cleveland. It will be his first home start since Sept. 30, 2022, when he allowed one run in eight innings the night Seattle clinched a playoff berth.