Series Preview #34: Cleveland Indians (52-46) at Seattle Mariners (46-52)
Bob Toth | On 22, Jul 2013
The last time the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners met up, the Mariners had taken two of three from the New York Yankees to pull a game within the .500 mark and to push their May record to 8-4. Four games later, the Mariners left town after three different last at bat victories by the Indians and victims of a four game sweep.
After those tough defeats at the hands of the Tribe, the Mariners (46-52) lost four more games and have had to fight and claw to get close to even again. After back-to-back sweeps of the Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros, they are six games under for the first time since that eight-game losing streak started against the Indians in May.
The Indians (52-46) lost no ground in the American League Central race or the wild card race over the weekend, as they dropped two of three to Minnesota and Detroit dropped a pair against Kansas City.
Aaron Harang and Ubaldo Jimenez will pair up on Monday night at 10:10 PM ET from Safeco Field in Seattle. Harang (4-8, 5.38 ERA) will make his first start in twelve days. He allowed seven runs on eight hits in his last start. Jimenez (7-4, 4.56) was pulled early in the fourth inning of his last start prior to the All-Star break after struggling against Kansas City.
Right-handers Erasmo Ramirez and Zach McAllister will both make their returns to the starting rotation for Tuesday’s same start time. Ramirez (0-0, 13.50) will make his second start after missing almost all of the first half of the season with a sore elbow. He allowed seven earned runs in his first start. McAllister (4-5, 3.43) has not appeared in a game since June 2nd with a sprained right middle finger.
In the Wednesday afternoon 3:40 PM ET getaway game, left-handers Joe Saunders and Scott Kazmir will make the starts for their respective teams. Saunders (9-8, 4.28) is 4-0 in July with a 1.73 ERA. Kazmir (5-4, 4.30) allowed just two hits in his last start and has been superb over his last half dozen, posting a 2-0 record with a 1.95 ERA in that span.
Those looking to view the games live can find all three matchups on Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and Root Sports. Radio availability for the games will be made possible via the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and the Seattle Mariners Radio Network.
The Indians salvaged the third and final game of their stay in Minneapolis against the Twins on Sunday.
Poor fundamentals by the Indians defense ruined another solid start from Kazmir on Friday night, as the Twins came from behind with a 3-2 victory. Michael Bourn delivered both Indians runs in the third inning with a two-out, two-run double to left center field. The Twins were largely held off of the bases by Kazmir, who allowed just two hits and no earned runs. Base runners moved around the bases successfully thanks to defensive blunders on the field by Asdrubal Cabrera, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Nick Swisher. Joe Mauer drove in the decisive run in the eighth off of Joe Smith.
The Indians wasted another stellar starting effort, this one by Corey Kluber, as the bullpen allowed three runs to give the Twins another 3-2 win. Kluber kept the Twins off of the board through five innings, allowing just three hits and two walks, but left a bit early after experiencing tightness in his left hip. Jason Kipnis hit a two-run opposite field home run in the sixth to break a scoreless tie. Rich Hill allowed back-to-back lefties to reach base to start the bottom of the sixth and an error by Chisenhall opened the flood gates, as three runs would score between the next four batters.
Justin Masterson pitched six hitless innings and the Indians limited the Twins to two Brian Dozier hits, as Cleveland earned a well-rounded 7-1 victory on Sunday afternoon. Kipnis hit a home run for the second consecutive day to the opposite field and had three RBI on the afternoon. Michael Brantley’s bases-clearing triple in the fifth pushed the Indians lead to 6-0 at the time.
Kipnis has now tied for the team lead in home runs with Mark Reynolds with 15, thanks to his pair of two-run shots during the series. He has reached base in 14 of his 15 July starts and has hits in 13 of those games. He is hitting an American League-best .353 since May 15th.
In 43 at bats this season, Brantley is batting .395 with two outs and runners in scoring position, third best in the AL.
The Indians’ pitching staff has allowed a .231 batting average against it so far in July, the second-best numbers in the AL.
Seattle earned their second consecutive series sweep by knocking down the hapless Houston Astros over the weekend.
Saunders earned his ninth victory of the season in limiting Houston to three runs in five and one-third innings of work on the way to a 10-7 win. Potential trade candidate Bud Norris was dealt his ninth defeat after allowing six earned runs and four walks on the night. Seattle hit four home runs in the game, including the first two in the career of shortstop Brad Miller. Houston’s Brandon Barnes had five hits on the night and hit for the cycle.
Houston’s Erik Bedard pitched six and one-third innings of hitless baseball, but the one hit the Mariners got was the biggest of the night, as Seattle shocked Houston with a 4-2 win. Michael Saunders drove home a pair with a two-out double in the seventh inning to give the Mariners the go-ahead runs and ended the combined no-hitter attempt. Tom Wilhelmsen earned his 21st save of the season.
A seven-run second inning, capped off by the first grand slam in the career of Nick Franklin, gave the Mariners a decisive 12-5 victory on Sunday afternoon. Felix Hernandez held the Astros scoreless in his six innings of work. Houston’s Jordan Lyles allowed ten runs, nine of which were earned. Dustin Ackley had three hits in four at bats for Seattle.
Raul Ibanez has been having an impressive season as a 41-year-old. He has ten home runs and 20 RBI in the last month while batting .326. He has 24 home runs and 56 runs batted in and is batting .264 on the season. It is his best home run output since 2009 when he hit 34 with the Philadelphia Phillies and it is tied for the third-highest total in a season in his career.
The bat of Justin Smoak has become a threat in the lineup, as the first baseman is batting .338 with five home runs and 13 RBI in his last 30 days.
Seattle is tied for second in all of baseball with 120 home runs. They have an American League-worst 18 sacrifice flies on the season.
The Mariners relief corps has a 4.53 ERA over the course of the season, the second worst mark in the AL.
The Indians will have a day off on Thursday before opening up a homestand with the Texas Rangers on Friday. The Mariners will welcome in the Minnesota Twins for four games starting Thursday.
Photo: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images