Seattle starter Taijuan Walker shut out Cleveland for eight innings and his battery mate added four RBI on three big extra base hits as the Mariners blanked the Indians by a 5-0 final on Wednesday night.
Walker continued his dominance over the Tribe in his career with a career-high matching eleven strikeouts in the ball game to get himself back on track after seven winless starts since late April. He limited the Cleveland offense to just three hits and pitched in trouble in just one inning on the night.
His catcher gave him a pair of early runs of support in the third inning to give Seattle a lead that it would never look back from. Carlos Carrasco was on the mound for the Tribe, making his second start off of the disabled list, and had retired six straight before Ketel Marte singled to lead off the third. Seeing his first pitch of the night as a batter, Chris Iannetta slugged a two-run homer to left to give the M’s the lead.
Carrasco hit Nori Aoki with a pitch after the Iannetta homer, but then retired seven straight batters before the Seattle catcher stepped in again in the fifth inning and repeated his first at bat, homering to left-center to give the Mariners a 3-0 lead.
Cleveland’s offense, meanwhile, was flailing away against the Seattle starter Walker, who retired the side in order in each of the first three innings with five strikeouts. He worked out of trouble in the fourth, when Rajai Davis and Jason Kipnis each singled to lead off the inning before Francisco Lindor fouled out to Iannetta, Carlos Santana flied to right, and Lonnie Chisenhall struck out swinging after both runners were able to advance 90 feet on a balk from Walker.
The Indians would muster just two more base runners the rest of the night. Michael Martinez led off the sixth inning with a broken-bat single to right and Lindor was hit by a pitch by reliever Nick Vincent with two outs in the ninth.
Despite the early three-run deficit, Carrasco did his part to keep the game close, retiring the first two batters of the seventh before exiting after a single to left by Marte. Zach McAllister came on in relief and after Marte stole both second and third base against him, Iannetta added his fourth run batted in of the night with a double to center to make it a 4-0 contest.
Seattle added an unneeded insurance run in the bottom of the eighth against Joba Chamberlain, who was making his first appearance since being activated from the disabled list. He hit Seth Smith with a pitch before a double to right by Robinson Cano put two in scoring position with nobody out. Chamberlain struck out Nelson Cruz swinging, but Kyle Seager jumped on his first pitch and grounded to third, scoring Smith on the putout. After an intentional walk to Adam Lind loaded the bases, Chamberlain got former Indians outfielder Franklin Gutierrez to ground into a fielder’s choice to short to end the threat, but with Cleveland’s inability to strike through against Walker, the game had been long since decided.
The loss, the second in as many games by the Indians, dropped the club to 32-26 on the season. Despite the L, they did not lose ground on their closest challengers in the American League Central, as the Kansas City Royals dropped their seventh straight game in a shutout by Baltimore while the Detroit Tigers fell 7-2 to Toronto. Chicago also lost for the fifth straight game while last place Minnesota won their second straight.
Seattle improved to 33-26 with the win, but still trails the Texas Rangers by three games in the AL West.
WALKER WICKED ON WEDNESDAY
After watching the way teammate James Paxton pitched against the Indians on Monday, Mariners manager Scott Servais hoped to see a more aggressive Walker (3-6, 3.48 ERA) on the mound and he got just that on Wednesday. His young right-hander threw eight scoreless innings, matching a career-high in strikeouts with eleven while allowing just three hits and walking none. The effort earned him his first win since April 25, ending a six-game losing streak.
“The thing I was most excited about, he had the edge,” said Servais after the game. “Emotion. He was like, ‘I’m the guy and I’m going to take the ball and run with it tonight.’”
WALKER’S DOMINANCE OVER CLEVELAND CONTINUES
With four starts against Cleveland under his belt, Walker has now allowed just one earned run in 28 innings while striking out 31 Indians batters.
IANNETTA’S BIG DAY
Iannetta was the driving force of the Mariners offense and his effort may have been lost some by the dominant pitching performance of his battery mate on the night. He gave Walker two early runs on a homer that just cleared Davis’ jump in left in the third, but he hit a no-doubter in the fifth, estimated at over 450 feet. For good measure, he added an RBI-double late in a nine-pitch at bat against McAllister for his third hit in three trips and his fourth RBI of the night.
It was the second multi-homer game of Iannetta’s career, with the last coming back in 2011 while he was a member of the Colorado Rockies. His homers on Tuesday were his first since May 13.
NEAR QUALITY EFFORT FROM CARRASCO IN THE LOSS
Carrasco (2-1, 3.48) gave the Indians length in the ball game despite the pair of homers to Iannetta that proved to be the difference on the night. With no run support for Carrasco by the Cleveland offense, his near quality start went to waste. He pitched six and two-thirds innings and was charged with four earned runs on five hits, with one walk and six strikeouts of Mariners hitters.
“I thought he pitched the guys in the middle of the order very tough,” shared Indians manager Terry Francona after the game. “Iannetta is a strong kid and he left some pitches middle-middle.”
Seager’s RBI in the eighth inning against Chamberlain gave him 40 RBI on the season. He joined Cano (48) and Cruz (43) in making Seattle the only team in baseball with three players at or over the 40-RBI plateau so far this season.
After his unpleasant experience behind the plate on Tuesday, Indians catcher Yan Gomes was given a night off and is considered day-to-day with an injured pride. Joining him with days of rest were Mike Napoli and Jose Ramirez, the latter of whom needed an extra day after fouling a pitch off of his left ankle in Tuesday night’s loss.
Chamberlain returned to the Indians roster after several days of delay to activate him from the 15-day disabled list. He was eligible to be added to the roster on Monday, but right shoulder fatigue for Danny Salazar caused a shuffling of the starting rotation, pushing Carrasco back to Wednesday and forcing the Indians to need to recall Cody Anderson from Triple-A Columbus for a spot start on Tuesday.
Anderson was optioned back to Columbus to pave the way for Chamberlain, who worked an inning in the ball game.
Josh Tomlin (8-1, 3.54) will look to play the role of stopper once again as the Indians look for the series split in the finale on Thursday. He is a perfect 4-0 away from Progressive Field this season. Nate Karns (5-2, 4.23) will oppose for the Mariners, who look to win a third straight game after ending a four-game losing streak on Tuesday. He will be looking to bounce back from a loss in his last outing, when he gave up seven earned runs to the Rangers.
First pitch in game four from Safeco Field is scheduled for 10:10 PM ET.
Photo: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson