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Gallardo dominates after difficult first inning

Right-hander struck out 6 over 5 scoreless after the opening frame
MLB.com

CLEVELAND -- Before he made his first pitch of the game, Yovani Gallardo was handed a 3-0 lead. Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager hit back-to-back home runs in the top half of the first inning off Indians starter Danny Salazar to give the Mariners right-hander an early cushion to work with.

But after Gallardo faced all nine hitters in the Tribe's lineup and delivered 38 pitches in the bottom half of the inning, Mariners manager Scott Servais looked up at the scoreboard and saw that his team trailed, 4-3.

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CLEVELAND -- Before he made his first pitch of the game, Yovani Gallardo was handed a 3-0 lead. Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager hit back-to-back home runs in the top half of the first inning off Indians starter Danny Salazar to give the Mariners right-hander an early cushion to work with.

But after Gallardo faced all nine hitters in the Tribe's lineup and delivered 38 pitches in the bottom half of the inning, Mariners manager Scott Servais looked up at the scoreboard and saw that his team trailed, 4-3.

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"He really struggled," Servais said of Gallardo after Saturday's 4-3 loss to the Indians. "In the first inning, [he] just couldn't handle his release point, couldn't get the ball down. He was missing up to the arm side, and he struggled. Didn't make a quick enough adjustment, the walks, and then you look up and after a very good top of the first, and we were down."

However, Gallardo settled down after the first inning. The right-hander held the Indians scoreless across his next five innings, only giving up three more hits without issuing another walk while striking out six.

"He is a pro. You do have to make adjustments, and he did," Servais said. "He got the ball down, got his breaking ball going a little bit better after that. We certainly needed it to keep us in the game there."

Unfortunately for Gallardo, that first inning was all the Indians needed to win the game, as Salazar and the combination of relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen held the Mariners hitless after their three-run first inning.

"After [the first inning], I kept putting up zeros and gave the guys an opportunity to come back and put up some runs and pick me up. Unfortunately that didn't happen," Gallardo said. "I just have to stay away from that first inning, that big inning, and go from there."

The right-hander began the first by walking three of the first four hitters he faced before allowing up a one-out, two-run double to Jose Ramirez. After getting a much-needed three-pitch strikeout of Jason Kipnis, Gallardo threw a fastball middle-away to Lonnie Chisenhall, who grounded a two-run single to center to give the Indians the lead for good.

"We came right back and answered them in the first, which was huge," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said. "We got those [three] walks off Gallardo, then [Ramirez] and [Chisenhall] came through with their big hits. Salazar and Gallardo really settled in after that. I wouldn't have thought the score would stay that way the rest of the game, but our guys made it hold up."

In his previous start against the A's, Gallardo went 6 1/3 innings and allowed one run on four hits to pick up his first win with the Mariners. Following his strong start, the right-hander couldn't help but be frustrated after he was handed his third loss of the season.

"It's definitely frustrating," Gallardo said. "Especially after the last start I had in Oakland where I was pounding the strike zone."

Despite the rough first inning, Servais believes Gallardo can build off his five strong innings on Saturday.

"He made a good adjustment and hung in there and going six innings after the first was really good. But unfortunately one inning can get you early, and it did today."

William Kosileski is a reporter for MLB.com based in Cleveland who covered the Mariners on Saturday.

Seattle Mariners, Yovani Gallardo