Perhaps the Seattle Mariners aren't quite ready for prime time.
The Mariners entered their weekend series against the two-time defending American League West champion Houston Astros with a 13-2 record, six consecutive victories and a four-game lead in the division.
After three straight Houston victories, the Mariners are 13-5, and their lead is down to one game in the AL West as they welcome the Cleveland Indians to town for a three-game series that starts Monday night.
After a 10-6 loss Friday, the Mariners suffered 3-1 and 3-2 defeats over the weekend. Seattle had scored six or more runs in 14 of its first 16 games before running into Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole the past two days.
The Mariners struck out a total of 28 times over the weekend, with Verlander and Cole each fanning 11 in their starts.
"They threw the ball against us very well all weekend," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "They've been good ballgames. They've been tight, and we've done a pretty good job defensively, we've made the plays. But you have to credit their pitching. They shut us down."
Servais didn't seem too concerned about the lack of contact.
"The strikeouts, they're going to happen once in a while," Servais said "They happen when you take deep counts. We're OK with that. I said from the beginning of spring training, I'm fine with that. We'll keep grinding away. Not every club on every weekend is going to make those pitches."
The Mariners' Mitch Haniger led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run, marking the 18th consecutive game to start the season in which Seattle has homered, extending a major league record. The Mariners broke the record of 14 games set by the 2002 Indians.
The Indians are in a similar circumstance to the Mariners. They were 8-4 heading into a three-game series in Kansas City before being swept over the weekend. Those are the same Royals who lost four in a row at home to the Mariners last week.
Cleveland's biggest problem has been its starting rotation.
Mike Clevinger suffered an upper-back strain on Tuesday and is out six to eight weeks, and Carlos Carrasco lasted just two-thirds of an inning on Friday. On Sunday, ace Corey Kluber went 2 2/ 3 innings in a 9-8 loss, as the Royals walked off in the ninth.
That snapped the Indians' streak of 45 consecutive series without being swept.
Kluber allowed six runs on six hits and walked a career-high five batters.
"First inning, thought he was good," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "And then he started getting under some pitches. I know he knew it. He just was having a hard time self-correcting."
Right-hander Trevor Bauer (1-1, 2.29 ERA), a relative bright spot in the rotation, is scheduled to face rookie Mariners left-hander Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 4.15) in the series opener.
Bauer is 1-4 with a 4.60 ERA in eight career appearances against Seattle, including seven starts, though he faced the Mariners just once last year.
Kikuchi will face the Indians for the first time. He has two starts this season with six-plus innings while allowing three or fewer runs, but has yet to get a decision.
-- Field Level Media