Tribe Bit By Long Ball, Lose Sixth Straight; Mariners 5, Indians 3
By Ryan Hohman
Michael Saunders hit a pair of two-run homers, the second breaking a 3-3 tie in the seventh inning as the Seattle Mariners won their sixth straight and handed the Indians their sixth straight defeat on Monday night at Safeco Field.
After getting shut out and swept by the Athletics, the Indians wasted no time getting on the scoreboard. Jason Kipnis, who had the day off on Sunday, led off the game with his 12th homerun of the season off the right field foul pole to give the Indians a 1-0 advantage. It was the first lead-off longball of Kipnis’ young career. Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a picture-perfect bunt single down the third base line. But former Indian and Seattle starter Kevin Millwood retired Choo and Brantley to end the inning.
The Tribe would not have the lead for long.
With two outs in the third, Dustin Ackley lined a bullet back up the middle off Jimenez’s glove for a single. Michael Saunders followed with a two-run homer to center to give Seattle a 2-1 lead. Jimenez drilled the next batter, Kyle Seager, between the numbers on an 0-2 count. Seager stole second and Jimenez walked John Vaso, but Jimenez managed to strike out Justin Smoak to prevent further two-out damage.
Milwood retired 11 straight until Kotchman drew a one-out walk in the fifth. Ezequiel Carrera bunted for a hit to move Kotchman to second. Jason Donald lined out and then Kipnis tied the game with an RBI single to left. Cabrera kept the two-out party alive with a single to center to score Carrera and put the Indians in front 3-2. Choo grounded out to end the inning.
In the sixth, newly acquired outfielder Eric Thames tied the game at 3 with a 425 foot solo shot to right center. Miguel Olivo followed with a single to end Jimenez’s night. Manny Acta brought in Joe Smith, who retired Robinson with one pitch to end the inning.
After beating Felix Hernandez in his last start against the Mariners on May 16th at Progressive Field, Ubaldo Jimenez (9-12, 5.59) allowed three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings. Jimenez has gone 1-5 with a 9.09 ERA in 8 starts since the All-Star break.
Smith (7-4, 3.79) returned to the mound in the seventh, but wouldn’t last long. After giving up a lead-off walk to Brendan Ryan, Manny Acta brought in Tony Sipp. Ackley laid down a sac bunt to move Ryan to second and then Michael Saunders stepped to the plate and crushed his second two-run homer of the game – and third in two days – to right field, putting the Mariners up 5-3 for good.
In the ninth, the Tribe made Seattle closer Tom Wilhelmsen earn his 18th save of the season. After retiring Duncan, Wilhelmsen gave up a single to Kotchman, a double to Carrera, and walked pinch-hitter Jack Hannahan to load the bases. But Jason Kipnis grounded into a double play to end the game.
Charlie Furbush (5-2, 2.03) pitched two innings of relief before giving way to Wilhelmsen in the ninth to pick up the win.
The Indians will face Seattle ace Felix Hernandez at Safeco Field on Tuesday in his first start since throwing a perfect game against the Rays on August 15th. Roberto Hernandez (0-1, 7.50) will take the rubber for the Tribe. The first pitch is slated for 10:10pm ET.
Photo credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images