Zunino Homer Late Sends Tribe to Series Loss; Mariners 6, Indians 5

The crash down on a see-saw really hurts.

The Cleveland Indians season has been full of ups and downs and Thursday night’s game was no greater evidence. After Corey Kluber’s dominant performance a night ago, the Indians could not get a solid start from Zach McAllister. McAllister and Mariners starter Chris Young could not pitch deep into the game, with each team registering a three-run, third inning but the game was decided in the bullpens. Mike Zunino’s two-run homer to left field in the eighth inning, took the lead back from Cleveland, giving Seattle a 6-5 victory and series win.

The Tribe played with spark early, rebounding from another player being traded prior to Thursday’s trade deadline. Yesterday it was Justin Masterson, today it was Asdrubal Cabrera being dealt away from the Wahoos.

Cleveland took the early lead in the bottom of the first inning when Jason Kipnis started the offense with a double to deep center field. After Jose Ramirez bunted Kipnis to third base, Michael Brantley singled him home to stake the Indians to an early 1-0 lead.

However, McAllister and the Tribe could not hold the lead for long. In the top of the second inning Kendrys Morales started the frame with a double to left field and Kyle Seager singled to put runners on the corners. After Zunino popped out, Logan Morrison hit a sacrifice fly to bring Morales home and tie the game at one apiece.

In the third inning, McAllister allowed the Mariners to take command of the game. Endy Chavez reached on an infield single and trotted around the base paths the rest of the way when Dustin Ackley homered to right field. His fifth homer of the season gave Seattle a 3-1 lead. Chris Taylor kept the Mariners offense going with a single and he scored from first base when Robinson Cano doubled to left field to give Seattle a 4-1 lead. McAllister was able to strand Cano at second base and get three outs, finishing the third without further damage.

Cleveland responded quickly, tallying three runs of their own in the bottom of the third inning. Mike Aviles, who replaced Chris Dickerson who left with left knee discomfort, walked to start the inning and came around on Kipnis’ home run to right center field. His sixth home run of the season quickly got the Indians back in the game, trailing 4-3. Brantley helped knot the score when he tripled to right field and scored on Carlos Santana’s sacrifice fly to right field.

With the game tied at four, McAllister gave up a leadoff single to Morrison. After retiring Corey Hart, Indians manager Terry Francona relieved McAllister. It was a disappointing start for a pitcher looking to take advantage of the rotation spot vacated by Justin Masterson. McAllister pitched just three and one-third innings, allowing four runs on eight hits. Nick Hagadone came on to finish the inning and pitch first two outs in the fifth inning.

And that’s when the offense went dry for both teams. Hagadone, followed by Scott Atchison and Marc Rzepczynski each held the Mariners offense down. Likewise, Young lasted five and one-third innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out one. Dominic Leone finished the sixth inning for Seattle.

But in the bottom of the seventh the Indians offense awoke again, giving the Tribe the lead. Charlie Furbush started the inning on the mound for Seattle and after Kipnis lined out, Ramirez used his speed to reach safely on an infield hit and then scamper to second base on a wild pitch. Once Furbush walked Brantley, Seattle called upon Danny Farquhar on the mound. Santana welcomed Farquhar to the game, beating the shift by taking the ball the other way and singling to left field. Ramirez scored easily and the Indians had a 5-4 lead. Joe Beimel (3-1) finished the seventh after Farquhar left the game when he was drilled by Lonnie Chisenhall‘s line drive.

Just like the early innings, Seattle came back with a vengeance in the top of the eighth inning. The normally reliable Bryan Shaw (4-3) came on for Cleveland, but walked Seager and allowed a two-run homer to Mike Zunino before recording an out. Zunino’s 17th homer of the season gave Seattle a 6-5 lead, stealing the win back from Cleveland.

Brandon Maurer worked a three-up, three-down eighth inning for Seattle and Fernando Rodney closed out the ninth inning. Rodney earned his 30th save of the season, slamming the door on the Tribe.

Seattle benefitted from the long ball, scoring four of their six runs in the game via the home run. The Mariners pounded out 11 hits, including two apiece from Taylor and Cano. Cleveland had 10 hits, with a pair from Kipnis, Brantley and David Murphy. Brantley reached base four times, adding two walks to his pair of hits.

The Mariners improve to 56-52, trailing the final Wild Card spot by two games from Toronto. Cleveland falls to 53-55 and remain five games back. The Tribe is tied with Tampa Bay with the American League’s 10th best record. With the loss of two veteran presences in the last two days, Cleveland will have to rely on their youth to mature if they hope to get back into a playoff chase.

Cleveland will welcome the American League’s worst team to date this year in the Texas Rangers on Friday. Cleveland will send Danny Salazar (3-4, 4.96) to the mound to try and take command of the series. Meanwhile, the Rangers will counter with Jerome Williams (2-4, 5.53) on the mound.

Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images

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