The Indians capitalized off of a risky base running play and put up eight runs in an offensive outburst in the third inning and never looked back as Cleveland claimed their fourth consecutive series win with a 12-4 dismantling of the Seattle Mariners on a beautiful Sunday afternoon from Progressive Field.
Cleveland (14-10) finished its shaky month of April at home with a resounding win in the series finale with Seattle, pulling to 6-6 in the month after a rough start in its first two home series of the season. The team put up 12 runs on 15 hits against Seattle pitching, a staff that had struggled at times to limit damage against it this season. The 12 runs tallied by the Tribe marked the second-most runs scored by the club this season.
The Indians were tasked with another first look at an unfamiliar starting pitcher this season as rookie Chase De Jong was set to make his first Major League start and third appearance overall as he filled in for the injured Felix Hernandez. The Tribe looked to Josh Tomlin to continue his strong career performances against the Mariners – he was 4-1 against them lifetime coming in to the day.
Cleveland took an early lead two batters into the afternoon against the rookie as Francisco Lindor started the day’s scoring with a solo homer to right. His seventh home run of the season put the Tribe on top, 1-0.
Nelson Cruz evened the score with his second home run in as many days, hitting a solo homer off of Tomlin to lead off the second inning. Tomlin bounced back with big double play balls to end the second and third innings before his offense gave him all the support that he would need for the rest of the day in the home half of the third.
Michael Brantley started the inning with a single to right. After a strikeout by Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Ramirez drew a four-pitch walk and Jason Kipnis singled to right, driving home Brantley to put Cleveland back on top. Kipnis picked off second before Lonnie Chisenhall lifted a pop up to shallow right. Robinson Cano made the catch but was lackadaisical after making the grab and Ramirez took off on a tag from third. The speedy third baseman just beat the tag at the plate on the unconventional sacrifice fly to give the Indians a 3-1 lead. The flood gates then opened as Abraham Almonte tripled off of the wall in right to score Kipnis from second. Roberto Perez hit a sharp grounder to Jean Segura at short that ate him up, scoring Almonte and ending the afternoon for De Jong. Carlos Santana worked a walk and Lindor doubled to the right field corner scoring both base runners while putting the Tribe up, 7-1. Brantley, the tenth man to bat in the inning, erased what little doubt may have remained with a two-run homer to right, his fifth of the year, to make it 9-1 before Encarnacion struck out for the second time in the frame to end the onslaught.
Tomlin retired six straight into the fifth before a one-out double from Guillermo Heredia and a walk by Dan Vogelbach, but he got out of the mini-jam unharmed. Seattle would strike through in the sixth, cutting into the deficit behind six straight hits that knocked out Tomlin. Segura doubled and Ben Gamel singled him to third. A single to shallow left by Cano scored Seattle’s second run of the day and a third straight single, this one from Cruz, drove in Gamel and made it 9-3. Manager Terry Francona went to his bullpen for left-hander Boone Logan, but a new pitcher could not slow down the Mariners at first as Kyle Seager singled home a run and Heredia singled to center to load the bases. Nick Goody came on to face pinch-hitter Taylor Motter, who struck out swinging, and then got Carlos Ruiz to line to short for an inning-ending double play.
The Indians added three more scores in the seventh against Dillon Overton. Kipnis reached with one out on an error and moved to second on a single from Chisenhall. Almonte singled to drive home Kipnis and a double to right-center by Perez, his third hit of the day, drove home a pair to make it 12-4.
Bryan Shaw and Zach McAllister got some work in to close out the day, with Shaw getting the team’s fourth double play of the game in the eighth.
The Mariners (11-15) ended a tough road trip with a pair of losses in Cleveland and fell to 5-12 on the road this season.
TOMLIN TAKES CONTROL
Tomlin earned his second win of the season and improved to 5-1 in his career against the Mariners. He got the hook after pitching to four batters in the sixth as Seattle seemed to have figured him out as they made their third trip through the order. He worked five-plus innings on the afternoon, allowing four runs on eight hits with a walk and three strikeouts.
ROOKIE ROUGHED UP
The Indians were cruel to the rookie De Jong, whose first Major League start will be one that he will likely want to forget as quickly as possible.
He made it two outs into the third, allowing six runs on nine hits with a pair of walks and a strikeout. He threw 40 of 73 pitches for strikes, but was first pitch strike to just eight of the 18 batters that he faced. The loss was the second in the young career of the 23-year-old right-hander.
The left-hander Overton worked five innings of relief for the Mariners, saving their bullpen substantially in his third appearance of the 2017 season. A starter for five games last season with the Oakland Athletics, his outing against Cleveland on Sunday was the third longest of his MLB career. He allowed three runs (two earned) on four hits with a pair of strikeouts.
STARTED AT THE BOTTOM
The bottom of the Indians lineup did much of the heavy lifting on Sunday.
Kipnis was 1-for-4 at the plate, drove in a run, and scored a pair. Chisenhall was 1-for-3 with a run scored and another driven in. Almonte had a pair of singles and a triple in four trips with two scored and two driven in. Perez was 3-for-4 with two singles and a double, a run, and three batted in.
MOTORING TO THE MOTOR CITY
With their six-game homestand completed with a 4-2 record and a pair of series wins, the Indians will hit the road for a three-city road trip that will begin with a four-game set in Detroit against the Tigers, who won two of three the first time the teams met earlier in April.
The Indians will send Trevor Bauer (2-2, 6.26 ERA) to the mound on Monday. He earned his second win of the year his last time out in defeating Houston. He allowed six runs on eight hits in five innings in a loss in his first start against Detroit this season. The Tigers will counter with Daniel Norris (1-2, 4.71). The left-hander earned his only win of the season in Cleveland, allowing just two hits in six scoreless innings against the Indians, walking four and striking out five in his second start of the year.
The series will begin at 7:10 PM ET from Comerica Park on Monday night.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images