Series Preview #26: Cleveland Indians (38-40) at Seattle Mariners (42-37)
Bob Toth | On 27, Jun 2014
The Cleveland Indians began their eight-game West Coast trip by earning a road split in Arizona while trying to fight their way back to the .500 mark. They will continue the battle against the Seattle Mariners, who are right in the mix in the AL Wild Card picture, in a three-game set this weekend.
Cleveland (38-40) split their two-game series in Arizona earlier in the week. After a 14-inning marathon, the Diamondbacks were victorious on Tuesday in the early hours of the morning in a 9-8 win as the two teams combined to use 45 of the 50 players available in the game. The Indians bounced back to win a 6-1 decision on Wednesday, as Corey Kluber provided the Tribe with seven strong and scoreless innings on the mound with eight strikeouts for his seventh win of the campaign.
Seattle (42-37) took two of three from the Boston Red Sox during the week to push their run differential to +51, the second-best mark in all of baseball. The Mariners won a 12-3 final on Monday after scoring six runs in the fourth inning. A four-run fifth inning provided the M’s with plenty of cushion in an 8-2 win on Tuesday. Boston avoided the sweep on Wednesday, squeezing out a 5-4 victory aided by three RBI from David Ortiz.
Chris Young (6-4, 3.23 ERA) will open the series for the Mariners. He is 6-1 in ten career starts in Seattle with a 3.19 ERA. Trevor Bauer (2-3, 4.40) will oppose. He is 0-2 with a 6.19 ERA in three road starts this season. First pitch is scheduled for 10:10 PM ET from Safeco Field on Friday night.
Roenis Elias (7-5, 3.74) and Josh Tomlin (4-5, 4.39) will square off in Saturday’s 10:10 PM ET start. Elias has won consecutive starts and four of his last five decisions, allowing just two earned runs on eight hits in his last 13 2/3 innings. Tomlin has been dealt losses in each of his last three starts, allowing 13 earned runs in 15 innings.
Felix Hernandez (9-2, 2.24) will continue his All-Star push in Sunday’s 4:10 PM ET finale. He is 2-1 with a 1.49 ERA in June and has a 6-5 record with a 3.25 ERA in 14 starts in his career against Cleveland. The Indians will send T.J. House (0-1, 4.88) to the mound after his recall from Triple-A Columbus. He pitched three and one-third innings on Tuesday for the Clippers, allowing two hits and two walks with three strikeouts in a 56-pitch start.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and ROOT Sports will cover all three games in the series. Radio broadcasts will be made available by the affiliates of the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and on 710 ESPN in Seattle.
Cleveland’s Masterson, coming off of a short outing against Arizona, will throw a side session in the next few days to gage whether he will be able to start in the coming series because of right knee soreness. The knee has been bothering him throughout the season. He was originally slated to start Sunday’s game against Seattle but the club hopes he will be able to go on Tuesday against Los Angeles.
Reliever Mark Lowe was optioned back to Triple-A Columbus prior to Wednesday’s game to provide the Indians with much needed bullpen depth after Tuesday’s five-plus hour marathon. Lefty Nick Hagadone was recalled.
The Mariners optioned designated hitter Jesus Montero to Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday.
First baseman Corey Hart started a rehab assignment last week while trying to return from a strained left hamstring. Center fielder Michael Saunders (right AC joint inflammation) and first baseman Justin Smoak (strained left quad) have both begun rehab assignments and are expected back from the 15-day disabled list in early July.
RACING FOR A BATTING TITLE
Cleveland’s Michael Brantley and Seattle’s Robinson Cano are neck-and-neck in the American League batting title race. Brantley is fifth in the AL with a .325 batting average, while Cano is right on his tail with a .324 mark. Brantley is tied with Jose Altuve of Houston with a .385 mark in the month of June, best in the AL amongst qualified hitters.
Cano, who has hit 25 or more home runs in each of the last five years, has just four this season. Brantley has established a new career high with 12 home runs already this season, surpassing his total of ten hit all of 2013. Brantley is third in the AL in on-base percentage with a .394 mark.
The Indians have fared extremely well in their head-to-head matchups with the Seattle Mariners, dating back to the franchise’s inception in 1977. The Mariners have provided the Indians with their third-best winning percentage against an American League foe. The Indians are 210-164 all-time, including a 101-86 record in Seattle.
Cleveland is 23-11-2 in season series against Seattle. The Mariners have not won a season series from the Indians since 2010. The Indians took the season series last year, five games to two.
The slow building legend of Lonnie Chisenhall is starting to game traction across baseball. It all began three years ago this weekend on June 27th, 2011.
At just 22 years of age, the Indians third baseman got the call from Triple-A and reported on short notice to Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. He replaced infielder Adam Everett, who was designated for assignment, on the roster. The veteran, in his eleventh and final season in the Majors, appeared in 34 games for Cleveland, hitting .217 with one run batted in over 60 at bats.
Chisenhall got the start at third and batted seventh in the batting order in an interleague game started by Mitch Talbot. He nearly got to step to the plate in the first inning, as the Indians plated two runs on a home run from Asdrubal Cabrera. Arizona bounced back with three in the bottom of the frame.
Chisenhall wasted no time in his first at bat, swinging at the first pitch of the second inning to fly out to left-center. He stepped in to the batter’s box to lead off again in the fifth inning and drove a double to right field off of Ian Kennedy for his first MLB hit on the second pitch of the at bat. He would move to third on a single by Lou Marson but would be stranded there.
He came back up in the sixth with runners on first and second and one out and delivered his first MLB RBI on a single through the right side. The hit scored Carlos Santana and gave the Indians a 4-3 lead.
Chisenhall led off the ninth inning in a four-four tie and flew out to center. After a second out, Orlando Cabrera homered down the left field line to give the Indians a 5-4 lead. Chisenhall was lifted for the bottom of the ninth in a double switch, replaced by Chris Perez in the batting order and Jack Hannahan at third base. Perez allowed a leadoff single before a sacrifice and a pair of fly outs to right to earn the save.
Chisenhall hit .255 in that first season with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 66 games. He appeared in just 43 games in 2012, hitting .268 with five home runs and 16 RBI. He hit .225 last season, but set career highs in homers (11), RBI (36), and doubles (17).
Chisenhall, who has a .352 average heading into the weekend and .325 average in June, is inching closer and closer to being eligible for consideration in the batting title race. He has already equaled his career mark in runs batted in, broken his high in doubles with 19 so far, and has eight home runs on the season, all through 64 games.
The Indians will proceed down the Pacific coast to Los Angeles for a three-game series against the Dodgers beginning on Monday. The Mariners will head to Houston for three games, ending their six-game homestand.
Photo: Norm Hall/Getty Images