Bullpen Provides No Relief as Tribe Drops Series in Seattle; M’s 5, Indians 4
Bob Toth | On 01, Apr 2018
There was no fooling around this April Fool’s Day as offense was again the story from Safeco Field as Seattle and the Cleveland Indians combined for four home runs in a 5-4 slugfest that went in favor of the home Mariners.
While the long ball would tell the tale on Sunday afternoon, it was a two-out base knock that started the scoring on the day for the Indians against Mariners right-hander Mike Leake. After Edwin Encarnacion struck out looking to start the second inning, Lonnie Chisenhall singled to right and Roberto Perez worked a walk. A fly to left from Tyler Naquin left the inning in the balance, but Bradley Zimmer drove a sinker to left for an RBI-single to put the Indians on top, 1-0.
Trevor Bauer got the start for Cleveland and worked with some traffic in the first two innings, but had a mess on his hands in the third. After retiring the first two batters quietly, Jean Segura singled to right. Robinson Cano worked a long at bat and took a seven-pitch walk to put two on for Mitch Haniger. He would also see seven pitches and the final outcome was the same as he walked to load the bases for Kyle Seager. He fell behind in the count early and fouled off four pitches before striking out swinging on a hook to leave the bags loaded.
Encarnacion made the Mariners pay for the missed opportunity to lead off the next half inning. After getting ahead in the count 2-0, he got a cutter from Leake in his nitro zone and lined it over the wall in left and off of the auxiliary scoreboard to extend the Indians’ lead to 2-0.
After his 32-pitch third, Bauer got the inning that he needed in the fourth, retiring the side on just nine pitches. But in the bottom of the fifth with the score still 2-0, the Mariners got doubles-happy and knotted the game up. David Freitas doubled to right to start the frame and moved to third on a sacrifice by Gordon. Segura doubled to right to drive in the Seattle catcher with their first run of the day. Cano struck out looking before Haniger was plunked to put two on for Seager. This time, he delivered in the clutch, sending a smash towards Yonder Alonso at first that skipped over the Tribe first baseman and towards the right field corner. The shot scored Segura to tie the game and put runners on the corners. Bauer worked out of further trouble, striking out Dan Vogelbach, but it was a new game from Seattle.
Alonso attempted to make up for his missed chance in the field when he stepped to the plate with one out in the top of the sixth against Leake. He doubled to center, but he would get no further. Encarnacion grounded out to third and after an intentional walk of Chisenhall, Perez flied to Gordon in center to end the threat.
At the century mark for pitches, Bauer exited for his bullpen in the sixth. Dan Otero worked a perfect sixth inning, but returning for the seventh, he was tagged in a good at bat by Gordon, who lined a rare homer over the wall in right to put Seattle on top for the first time. Otero would leave after retiring Segura on a liner to short, but reliever Tyler Olson had no luck, giving up a single to left to Cano and a big fly to Haniger, his second of the series, to put the Mariners up 5-2.
Cleveland would not be done, as they would strike for more against the Seattle bullpen. Juan Nicasio took over for Leake and retired Jose Ramirez on a grounder before Alonso singled to right. Encarnacion stepped in and saw another pitch in that he liked, driving it deep to left again for his second home run of the game, cutting the M’s lead to 5-4.
With the game on the line in the ninth, Seattle skipper Scott Servais went to his closer Edwin Diaz for the second time in the series. The two-pitch flamethrower made quick work of the Tribe bats, striking out Naquin on a slider off the plate near his shoe tops before K’ing Zimmer on three pitches. Lindor, the team’s last hope, worked the count full before cutting and missing on a slider to end the ball game.
The Indians (1-2) dropped their opening series with their third straight one-run contest. The three runs allowed by the bullpen were a drastic difference to Saturday’s contest, when they worked three and one-third innings of scoreless relief. Seattle (2-1) sits a half game in back of first place Houston and Los Angeles after the opening weekend of the season.
Bauer worked five innings and provided mixed results. He minimized some trouble, but one unlucky hop and a questionable strike zone hurt his cause. He allowed two runs on five hits, walked three, hit one batter, and struck out seven on 101 pitches (63 strikes) on the day. Otero took the loss in relief, allowing one run on the solo home run with a strikeout in an inning and a third. Olson will not have a perfect ERA in 2018, as after failing to give up an earned run in 2017, he was charged with a pair on the Haniger homer in his first appearance of the season.
Leake took home his first win of 2018 with a quality effort on the mound. He lasted seven innings, giving up two runs on five hits with three free passes and four strikeouts on the afternoon. Diaz got his second save in as many chances and once again retired all three outs he made via the strikeout, giving him six already in two innings of work this season.
The Mariners played without the services of their big bopper Nelson Cruz, who was sidelined with what is being called a sprained ankle. He slipped walking down the dugout steps on Saturday after hitting a two-run homer in the middle of the contest. X-rays were negative, but he was to undergo an MRI during the day on Sunday. The injury-depleted club has already had to place their starting catcher, Mike Zunino, on the disabled list this weekend with his own oblique strain.
There will be no rest for the Tribe as they will head down the Pacific coastline to the city of Anaheim, California, where they will take on the new-look Angels in a three-game series beginning Monday night. Mike Clevinger, the former Angels prospect, will get the start against his former club for the Tribe. He will face right-hander