Game #123: Cleveland Indians (54-68) at Seattle Mariners (59-64)
By Mike Brandyberry
What’s in a name?
The Mariners, winners of six in a row, send Felix to the mound for his first start since throwing a perfect game last Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays. Not just did Hernandez retire all 27 batters he faced, but he struck out 12 hitters, including the final out. This Hernandez has been the ray of light in a dismal season for the Mariners, always being the ace of the staff and snapping long losing streaks.
However, in the Indians case, their Hernandez didn’t even go by that name just eight months ago. Roberto, formerly Fausto Carmona, is making his second start of the season since returning to the United States after clearing identity issues and serving a three week suspension imposed by Major League Baseball. In Roberto’s first big league start this season, he was much less than perfect, allowing eight runs—five earned—in six innings of work against the Los Angeles Angels. Hernandez will have the next six weeks to prove to the organization he is worthy of his $6 million option. He’ll have to be much sharper with his location, especially his sinker, to effectively get hitters out.
Currently, the differences between teams don’t just lie in their starting pitchers. The Mariners, while out of the pennant race, have continued to compete and string together wins. The natives of the Northwest were eliminated from playoff discussions months ago, yet have continued to battle and scrape to within five games of .500 currently.
Meanwhile, the Indians continue their descent in the standings, losing their sixth straight game last night and 19th in 24 games since July 26. The Tribe dropped last night’s game when Michael Saunders hit his second of two two-run homers in the game, defeating Cleveland 5-3. The Featherheads seem to be looking for the feistiness they had in the first half of the season, when they defeated Felix on May 16, tallying eight runs in three and two-third innings.
Last night the Indians did find a little spark it hasn’t seen lately when Jason Kipnis hit a leadoff home run in the first inning. For Kipnis, it was his first home run in 48 games, or 206 plate appearances. An added spark at the top from Kipnis could go a long way in igniting the Tribe’s offense.
If Cleveland doesn’t some more spark and drive to win, the perfect Hernandez will likely carve up the impatient and stagnant Indian offense. Felix has not lost since June 12 while going 7-0 with a 1.56 ERA over his last 12 starts. Meanwhile Roberto will just try to find his way and place back in a Major League rotation.
The Hernandez comparison and contrast will begin at 10:10 pm ET from Safeco Field in Seattle. The game can be seen on SportsTime Ohio and heard on the Indians Radio Network.
Cleveland Indians Starting Lineup
1. Jason Kipnis, 2B
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, SS
3. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
4. Carlos Santana, C
5. Michael Brantley, DH
6. Casey Kotchman, 1B
7. Brent Lillibridge, LF
8. Jack Hannahan, 3B
9. Ezequiel Carrera, CF
Seattle Mariners Starting Lineup
1. Dustin Ackley, 2B
2. Michael Saunders, CF
3. Kyle Seager, 3B
4. John Jaso, C
5. Jesus Montero, DH
6. Eric Thames, RF
7. Justin Smoak, 1B
8. Trayvon Robinson, LF
9. Brendan Ryan, SS
Photo: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images