George Kirby, J.P. Crawford carry Seattle Mariners to 1-0 win over Red Sox

<div>SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MARCH 29: <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:J.P. Crawford;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">J.P. Crawford</a> #3 of the <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Seattle Mariners;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Seattle Mariners</a> reacts to hitting a solo home run during the sixth inning against the <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Boston Red Sox;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Boston Red Sox</a> at T-Mobile Park on March 29, 2024 in Seattle, Washington.</div> <strong>(Alika Jenner / Getty Images)</strong>

SEATTLE - George Kirby didn't allow a run through 6 ⅔ innings in his first start of the season, J.P. Crawford scored the only run on a solo homer in the sixth inning, and the Seattle Mariners beat the Boston Red Sox 1-0 on Friday night.

Kirby allowed just two hits and two walks while racking up eight strikeouts in shutting down a Boston lineup that was without Rafael Devers, who was scratched pregame with a sore shoulder.

In fact, Kirby walked two of the first three batters he faced, which was highly uncharacteristic as Kirby had just 19 walks allowed in 31 starts all of last season. He walked two batters in a game just four times all year.

"The first inning was very un-George Kirby-like, but after that he got on a great roll, had all of his pitches working," manager Scott Servais said. "The fastballs to both sides of the plate, the breaking balls, a few splitters mixed in there and really dominated them."

Jarred Duran stole second base after a leadoff pass and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Masataka Yoshida drew a one-out walk to put runners on the corners as the Red Sox threatened early. The walk to Duran actually came with an automatic ball assessed for stepping off the mound, which Kirby didn't even realize at the moment and was surprised by Duran heading to first base.

"I had no idea," Kirby said. "I totally forgot about that step-off, no person on base rule. It is what it is. It counts as a walk. I'll just forget about it.

"I was a little amped up. Kind of just focused on my breathing and settled in and tried to not make the moment too big and just go out there and throw strikes."

Kirby struck out Trevor Story and got Triston Casas to fly out to center field to escape damage.

Kirby then shifted into cruise control for the remainder of his night. Kirby retired 19 of the next 20 batters he faced, with the only baserunner coming on a Tyler O'Neill single in the third. Kirby struck out six of eight batters through the middle innings before a two-out single from Ceddanne Rafaela ended his night in the seventh.

"That's what top of the rotation guys do," Servais said. "And this guy should be at the top of anybody's rotation. We're fortunate to have him and we got a few of those guys that can do that."

Gabe Speier came on in relief of Kirby and struck out Bobby Dalbec after allowing a single of his own to Enmanuel Valdez.

Meanwhile, Nick Pivetta was equally dominant for the Red Sox. Pivetta struck out 10 without issuing a single walk and allowed just three hits over his six innings of work.

The Mariners also were down a bat in the lineup as designated hitter Mitch Garver was scratched due to back spasms and they couldn't get anything going offensively against Pivetta. Crawford was the only batter in the lineup that didn't strikeout at least once in the game for Seattle.

However, Crawford managed to pounce on a cutter that hung up on the inner half of the plate and wrapped it around the right field foul pole to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.

"Pivetta has got such good stuff and great off-speed, you really just have to react to what he's throwing because he does a good job of mixing everything and he had us off off-balance all night," Crawford said. "And thankfully he just left one just kind of middle of the plate and got a barrel to it."

Ryne Stanek came in to pitch the eighth for Seattle and struggled to find the strike zone. His first six pitches were all balls as catcher Cal Raleigh took a mound visit to try and settle things down. Duran struck out and O'Neill grounded out to shortstop for a pair of outs, but Yoshida singled to put runners at the corners and force Servais to make the early call for Andrés Muñoz.

Muñoz battled back from a 3-1 count and got Story to ground to third base, but it still took a critical pick of a ball in the dirt by Ty France at first base on a bounced throw by Luis Urías to escape the jam.

Servais and Crawford both praised the play by France as the play of the game.

"Those plays like that often don't show up in the box score but it actually won us the game tonight," Servais said.

Urías' arm is a significant defensive concern for the Mariners, and it's already showed up twice in the first two games of the season. Urías failed to throw out Story in time on what should have been an inning-ending groundnut in the ninth inning last night as well. Urías needed France to bail him out on the poor throw in the eighth inning tonight, too.

"Ty saved the game right there. Tough play for Ty and thankfully, he picked it," Crawford said.

A Luke Raley single, and back-to-back walks from Crawford and Julio Rodríguez loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth, but Jorge Polanco lined out directly to Casas at first base as Josh Winckowski escaped his own jam.

Muñoz, again, battled back from a 3-1 count and struck out Casas looking, then mowed down Rafaela and pinch-hitter Pablo Reyes to close out the victory.


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