SEATTLE — The Seattle Mariners couldn’t make it through the first week of the season unscathed.
Starting catcher Mike Zunino was a late scratch before the season opener Thursday against the Cleveland Indians and the next day was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained left oblique.
On Saturday, designated hitter Nelson Cruz twisted his ankle after hitting a two-run homer in the sixth inning, apparently slipping on the dugout steps after rounding the bases and was replaced in the eighth by Guillermo Heredia with a runner on second base and the Mariners trailing by a run.
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Seattle failed to score, and the Indians held on for a 6-5 victory to even the series.
Cruz is scheduled for an MRI exam and is unlikely to play in the series finale on Sunday afternoon.
The 37-year-old Cruz was wearing a protective boot after Saturday’s game.
“When I heard that, I wanted to throw up,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “I really don’t know any other way to put it. Our club has just battled through a bunch of nagging injuries in spring training and early in the season.”
Cruz homered in each of the first two games of the season. On Thursday, his first-inning, two-run shot off Cleveland’s Corey Kluber, the reigning American League Cy Young Award winner, provided the difference in a 2-1 victory.
“He’s doing it at an age guys typically don’t,” Servais said after the opener. “He’s defying the odds, so to speak. And the way he goes about things, his preparation is as good as anybody I’ve ever been around. The video study, taking care of his body.”
Cleveland’s Yonder Alonso, who finished last year with Seattle before signing with the Indians as a free agent in the offseason, had the big blow Saturday, a grand slam in the first inning off Mariners left-hander James Paxton.
“After this game, doing something for the team, I think it helps you get settled a little bit, which is nice,” Alonso said.
The Mariners’ highlight came from 44-year-old Ichiro Suzuki, who had two hits and scaled the left-field fence in the third inning to take away a home run from Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez.
“I’d never made a play like that in left field, but I was able to get to the ball quick and get to the wall. I’m glad it worked out,” Suzuki said through an interpreter.
Sunday’s pitching matchup features a pair of former Pacific-12 Conference standouts who were both first-round draft picks.
Cleveland’s Trevor Bauer (17-9 last season) was the third overall selection by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2011 out of UCLA. He’s 1-4 with a 4.74 ERA in seven career appearances, including six starts, against Seattle.
Seattle’s Mike Leake (10-13 last season, including 3-1 with a 2.53 ERA in five starts for Seattle after being acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals late last season) was the eighth overall pick by the Cincinnati Reds in 2009 out of Arizona State. He’s 2-2 with a 3.92 ERA in seven career starts against Cleveland.