Series Preview #34: Seattle Mariners (54-51) at Cleveland Indians (52-53)
Bob Toth | On 29, Jul 2014
Despite a fantastic start to their first road trip of the second half, the Cleveland Indians sputtered in trips through Minnesota and Kansas City, ending what started out as a 3-1 road trip with a 5-6 record. They will open up an eight game homestand, their first since the last series prior to the All-Star Break, on Tuesday night as they host the Seattle Mariners.
The Indians (52-53) will look to extend their 29-19 home record, one of the best in the American League, over the course of the next eight home games. It will be a welcomed change of pace for the club after stumbling in KC, where they dropped the first three of a four game set.
The Indians wasted a strong starting outing and lost a 2-1 final on Thursday in 14 innings. A two-run home run in the eighth inning by Billy Butler bumped the Royals past the Indians on Friday night, 6-4. On Saturday, a five-run second inning was squandered as Cleveland surrendered seven unanswered runs, including the deciding two-run shot by Butler in the fifth, in a 7-5 loss. The Indians offense produced in double-digit quantities on Sunday in a decisive 10-3 win to wrap up the road trip.
The Mariners (54-51) have been better on the road than at home this season, posting a 28-20 record away from Safeco Field. They enter eleven games back in the AL West. They wrapped a seven-game homestand with a 2-5 record, including dropping three of four to the Baltimore Orioles.
Eight innings of five hit ball from Wei-Yin Chen gave the Orioles a 4-0 shutout on Thursday. The Mariners lost in ten innings on Friday night as a home run in the top of the frame by Chris Davis was the difference. Seattle held off a late charge from Baltimore on Saturday, sneaking away with a 4-3 victory. After the Mariners tied the game on a home run in the eighth inning, the Orioles got a go-ahead sacrifice fly in the tenth to win a 3-2 decision on Sunday afternoon.
Trevor Bauer (4-5, 3.93 ERA) will take the mound for the Indians in Tuesday night’s 7:05 PM ET start. He has pitched into the sixth inning in eleven straight starts and has thrown four consecutive quality starts with a 2-1 record in that span. Hisashi Iwakuma (8-5, 3.09) will counter for Lloyd McClendon and the Mariners. He is 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA and no walks in five July starts this month.
Corey Kluber and Felix Hernandez will match up for one of the better pitching pairings of the season in Wednesday’s 7:05 PM ET start. Kluber (10-6, 2.77) struck out ten batters in his last outing for his third such performance in July. He went nine innings in a no-decision, allowing one unearned run on two hits with no walks. Hernandez (11-2, 1.99) threw eight one-hit innings against the Indians the last time he saw them at the end of June. He has 15 straight starts into the seventh inning, but has won just one game in four starts since defeating the Indians.
Zach McAllister (3-6, 5.65) will toe the rubber in the finale on Thursday night. He has been shaky in three starts since returning from the disabled list, posting a 0-2 record with a 4.96 ERA this month. Chris Young (9-6, 3.04) is coming off of a two-hit performance over seven innings with eight strikeouts, matching his season high, in his last outing. First pitch is slated for 7:05 PM ET.
Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio and ROOT Sports will handle the presentation of the television portion of the series’ broadcast. The affiliates of both the Cleveland Indians Radio Network and Seattle Mariners Radio Network will provide broadcasts for radio listeners.
In their lone series against the Mariners at the end of June, the Indians dropped two of three. The opener was decided by one run in favor of the M’s before Josh Tomlin and King Felix threw consecutive one-hitters.
Despite the 1-2 trip through Seattle earlier this season, the Indians maintained a 211-166 advantage in their series with the Mariners. Cleveland has the advantage both at home and on the road, with a 109-78 mark when playing on the shores of Lake Erie since the Mariners entered the league for the 1977 season as an expansion franchise.
Starting pitcher Justin Masterson (right knee inflammation) completed a second rehab start with Triple-A Columbus and is scheduled to be activated to start in Friday night’s series opener against the Texas Rangers.
Center fielder Michael Bourn (left hamstring strain) remains sidelined on the 15-day disabled list with an August return date expected. Designated hitter Jason Giambi (left knee inflammation) and outfielder Nyjer Morgan (sprained PCL in his right knee) remain on the 60-day DL.
Since the last time the Indians faced the Mariners, Seattle has re-acquired first baseman Kendrys Morales from the Minnesota Twins.
They have three players residing on the disabled list. Infielder Willie Bloomquist is on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee contusion. Outfielder Michael Saunders is on the same list with a left oblique strain. Pitcher James Paxton is on the 60-day DL with a strained lat muscle. All three are expected back sometime in August.
Carlos Santana was the gift that kept on giving this past week on the way to winning the American League Player of the Week Award. He may have been the only person saddened within the Indians organization to leave Kauffman Stadium after the club’s disappointing weekend series.
Santana hit successfully in each of the last seven games, hitting 15-for-27 (.556) during that stretch. He hit five home runs over the last three games and six in the last week while driving in ten runs. He drew twice as many walks as strikeouts (eight to four) and even stole a base.
He had two multi-homer games over the weekend and became the first player in Indians history to have multi-homer games as a catcher, a designated hitter, and as a first baseman.
It marks the first time since 2000 that Cleveland has had back-to-back winners of the AL Player of the Week honor (Manny Ramirez and Bartolo Colon in September that season). Jason Kipnis won the honor last week.
Next Tuesday will mark the 13th anniversary of one of the more improbable comebacks in the history of Jacobs/Progressive Field, and it came at the expense of the Mariners on August 5th, 2001.
Dave Burba, Cleveland’s starter, allowed seven runs on seven hits in his first two-plus innings of work. Reliever Mike Bacsik added to the tally in his Major League debut after entering with the bases loaded in the third, and by the midway point in the fifth, the Indians were down 14-2 on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball, aided only by a two-run home run by Jim Thome, his 35th of the season, when already down 12-0.
Aaron Sele countered for the Mariners, coming in with a 12-3 record and 3.41 ERA, and was good until the bottom of the seventh, when Russell Branyan, who replaced Ellis Burks in the fifth, led off the inning with a homer to right-center. With two outs and Sele out of the game after loading the bases on a single and back-to-back walks, Jolbert Cabrera singled home a pair to make it 14-3, a nice contribution for the bench player who took over for Roberto Alomar in the sixth.
Thome led off the eighth with his second home run of the night and his 36th of the season, and after Branyan was hit by a pitch, Marty Cordova went deep fly to make it a 14-8 ball game. After a pair of singles, Omar Vizquel singled off of Norm Charlton to make it a 14-9 game.
Into the ninth, the Tribe still trailed by five. After a leadoff single, Charlton got two quick outs. Then, the flood gates opened. Cordova doubled. Wil Cordero walked to load the bases off of reliever Jeff Nelson. Einar Diaz singled in a pair. Kazuhiro Sasaki relieved and loaded the bases on a Kenny Lofton single. Vizquel then cleared the bases with a three-run, two-out triple to tie the game at 14.
Cleveland had two on and two out in the tenth but could not score. John Rocker kept the Mariners off of the scoreboard when he struck out the side swinging in the eleventh for the Indians. After an out by Diaz to start the bottom of the inning, Lofton and Vizquel singled before Cabrera won the game on a broken bat single to left, scoring a hard-charging Lofton from second base with a head first dive into the plate and an immediate leap onto the right shoulder of Eddie Taubensee.
Lofton, Vizquel, and Cordova all reached base five times. Vizquel finished a home run short of the cycle; Cordova missed by a triple. The Indians had 23 hits, 17 of which came in the final four and one-third innings. It was the first time in 76 years that a team had overcome a 12-run deficit. The team on the losing end of that contest was the Indians.
The Mariners would win 116 games that season, but lost in the ALCS to the New York Yankees.
Cleveland will continue its first homestand of the second half when they host the Texas Rangers for three games beginning Friday night. Seattle, having just come off of a four-game series with the Orioles, will head to Baltimore for a three-game rematch over the weekend.
Photo: Ed Zurga/Getty Images