Naquin and Allen Play the Heroes as Tribe Earns Split in Seattle; Indians 5, Mariners 3
Bob Toth | On 10, Jun 2016
Cleveland needed a three-run eighth inning, highlighted by a clutch two-run home run from rookie Tyler Naquin, to earn a split in Seattle on Thursday night, stealing the finale, 5-3.
In a close game that seemed to have extra innings written all over it, the Indians responded with their big eighth inning after starter Josh Tomlin surrendered the tying run in the bottom of the seventh on his second solo home run allowed on the night. Seattle got a run back in the bottom of the eighth frame and threatened for more, but Cody Allen came in for a multi-inning save and earned every penny paid for the night’s work.
The game was tied at two in the top of the eighth when veteran reliever Joaquin Benoit took over for hard-throwing rookie Edwin Diaz, who had allowed the go-ahead run to score in the road half of the seventh. After Lonnie Chisenhall lined out to left, Rajai Davis worked a walk to bring the rookie Naquin to the plate. Down quickly in the count 0-2 and in protect mode, Naquin golfed a low changeup that was out of the zone over the wall in right to give the Indians the lead back at 4-2.
“Benoit has got some good stuff,” shared Naquin after the game. “I know his best secondary is a split and it’s always in the back of my mind.”
Against a high-scoring, often-scary Mariners lineup, a two-run lead did not feel safe and luckily for the Tribe bullpen, they tacked on one more in the frame after Naquin’s game-changer. Catcher Chris Gimenez reached on an error by Benoit and ended up at second base. He moved to third on a groundout from Carlos Santana and scored on a two-out single to right-center by Jason Kipnis to give Cleveland a 5-2 lead.
The game was hardly over though, as Bryan Shaw took over in relief of Dan Otero and two hitters into the inning, gave up the second solo shot of the night by Robinson Cano, cutting the lead to just two runs. Shaw bounced back and struck out Nelson Cruz swinging, but then gave up a single to Kyle Seager before walking Adam Lind on five pitches, leading to the end of his night. With the tying runs on base, Allen took the mound for the four-out save and got Ketel Marte to ground to second to end the rally.
The Indians went down in order in the ninth, bringing Allen back out with a two-run lead to protect. He got the previous game’s hero, Chris Iannetta, to ground to third and struck out Dae-ho Lee for out number two. Nori Aoki kept the game alive with a single to center and advanced to third on a single by Seth Smith. With the winning run coming to the plate in Cano, Allen fought back after falling behind 3-1 to get a pair of strikes, including the final one swinging, to end the ball game.
The Indians (33-26) salvaged a split in the four-game set in Seattle to start their three-city, ten-game road trip. Their lead in the American League Central stretched to a season-high three games, as both second place clubs, Kansas City and Detroit, were idle. The Mariners (33-27) won the season series over the Indians, 4-3, and will now welcome the AL West leading Texas Rangers to town. Seattle trails heading into the series by four games.
“There is something to be said for continuing to plug away,” said Indians manager Terry Francona in the postgame press conference. “We fought back to take a lead and we had it for about 30 seconds. And then, off some pretty good pitchers, we found ways to score and we had to hang on like crazy.”
A pair of solo blasts were the only real blemishes on the stat sheet for the Tribe starter Tomlin, who was once again thrust into the role of “the stopper”. While he did not take home the win on Thursday night, the Indians did, just as they have done time and time again with Tomlin on the mound after a Cleveland loss.
Cano struck through in the bottom of the first, giving Seattle the early lead. The two-out shot on a pitch up cleared the wall in straightaway center field by plenty to give the M’s a 1-0 advantage. They nearly added on more, as Cruz singled to right and Seager doubled off of the top of the wall in left, but Cruz was thrown out at the plate trying to score by Davis, keeping the difference at just one on the first of two outfield assists on the night from the Indians left fielder.
Despite several big opportunities to scratch across runs, the Indians were held scoreless until the fifth by starter Nate Karns, who battled control problems on the mound again all night long.
The Indians had their leadoff man Santana on via walk to start the ball game, but left him at first. They loaded the bases with two outs in the second, as Davis singled and stole second, Naquin walked, and Gimenez walked, but Santana flied out to deep center on a nice catch by Aoki at the track. After going down in order in the third, they got a one-out single by Chisenhall in the fourth, but again left the base runner standing at first.
Karns was not long for the game come the fifth inning due to an elevated pitch count. He struck out Gimenez to start the inning before walking Santana and Kipnis and turning the ball over to left-handed reliever Mike Montgomery. Francisco Lindor grounded into a fielder’s choice, with Kipnis retired at second, but Lindor beat the throw to first to keep the inning alive. Mike Napoli was walked on four straight to again load the bases and Jose Ramirez delivered with an RBI-single to right, scoring Santana, but Lindor was thrown out at the plate by Cruz to end the rally with the score tied, 1-1.
Tomlin faced the minimum every other inning on the night and worked out of trouble in the even-numbered innings to keep the game close. He faced three batters in the seventh, giving up the lead on a leadoff home run by Lind, before handing the ball to Otero. The Tribe’s right-handed reliever retired both batters he faced and was credited with the win after the Indians’ big eighth.
TOMLIN PLAYS IN TRAFFIC
Tomlin gave up nine hits over six and one-third innings, but as he has been prone to do in recent years, he did not compound problems with multi-run homers or free passes. Both runs scored on the night came via solo home runs, one from Cano and one from Lind. He issued no walks while striking out four, using 100 pitches and 70 strikes to keep the Mariners in check.
WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER
Naquin’s tee shot out of the eight hole in the eighth inning over the fence was his fourth career home run and gave him nine RBI on the season. It was a big bounce back for the rookie after striking out in all three plate appearances on Wednesday night.
“That probably wasn’t a pitch he would’ve hit earlier in the year,” said Francona. “Probably a split or off speed. What a huge lift for us, shoot. And that’s against a guy who doesn’t give up many hits, let alone home runs to left-handers.”
TRIBE FEELING RISPY IN “LOB” CITY
Despite outhitting the Indians, 13-7, the Mariners could not push across the extra runs they needed throughout the game. They left nine men on base as a team and were 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position in the game. The Indians left ten, as they actually drew more walks (8) than hits (7) on the night, but went 3-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
KARNS HANDING OUT FREE PASSES
In his second and final outing against the Indians this season, Karns was once again dealt the no-decision. In his first outing on April 21, the Mariners won 10-7 in extra innings. He pitched five and one-third innings that day, allowing five runs (four earned) on five hits with four walks and five strikeouts. On Thursday, he allowed just one run on two hits, but gave up five walks to go with his five strikeouts while failing to make it out of the fifth for the second straight start.
“The walks, they came and got us,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais. “I think three or four of those guys scored tonight. We were right in it until the end, really good at bats to give us a chance late but just not enough. The walks really got us tonight.”
It was the second straight start that Karns has walked five in an outing.
CANO A MULTI-HIT MACHINE
Cano entered the series against the Indians riding a five-game hitting streak, one that came to an end in Monday’s 3-1 win by Cleveland. He made up for the missed opportunities in the opener, getting two hits in each of the middle games before going 3-for-5 Thursday with a double and two home runs.
For the series, Cano was 7-for-17 with two doubles, two homers, four runs, and two RBI while drawing no walks and striking out six times.
Tribe second baseman Kipnis hit a bit of a milestone in Wednesday night’s loss, getting the 700th hit of his Major League career. He added one more hit to that tally in Thursday’s win.
GOMES REMAINS OUT
Cleveland catcher Yan Gomes remained out of the Indians lineup on Thursday while dealing with the complications associated with his testicular contusion.
The Indians head down the coast for the middle stop of their road trip, visiting the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim for a three-game weekend set. Corey Kluber (5-6, 3.84 ERA) will take the ball for Francona in the series opener, while the Angels and manager Mike Scioscia will counter with left-hander Hector Santiago (3-3, 5.07).
First pitch from Angel Stadium of Anaheim is scheduled for 10:05 PM ET.
Photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images