The winningest team in Major League Baseball will look to continue its incredible and unexpected start as the Seattle Mariners host the Cleveland Indians for the first and final time in the 2019 season.
The Mariners (13-5) have put on a hitting display far exceeding expectations as the team leads all of baseball in homers (39), runs scored (126), RBI (124), hits (178), and stolen bases (tied with 19). The M’s have been on a homer-hitting frenzy, going deep in each of their first 18 games to start the season, a Major League record to open a year. They are within striking distance of matching their club record for consecutive games with a homer (23 back in 2013) and are two-thirds of the way to equaling the all-time record of 27 set by the 2002 Texas Rangers. Despite the hot start, the Mariners are just a game up on the Houston Astros in the American League West after being swept in three straight at home over the weekend.
It might be a bad time for the Indians (8-7) to head to T-Mobile Park (formerly Safeco Field). After turning things around during their first homestand when they swept the Toronto Blue Jays and started the road trip with a win in Detroit, Cleveland has now lost three straight after being swept over the weekend by the Kansas City Royals. While the losses have piled up for the Tribe and they will have to win the series to remain above the .500 mark, they are just a game and a half in back of the Minnesota Twins in second place in the AL Central.
PITCHING PROBABLES AND NOTES:
Monday, April 15, 10:10 PM ET
RHP Trevor Bauer (1-1, 2.29 ERA, ) vs. LHP Yusei Kikuchi (0-0, 4.15)
Tuesday, April 16, 10:10 PM ET
RHP Shane Bieber (1-0, 1.80 ERA vs. RHP Mike Leake (2-0, 4.15)
Wednesday, April 17, 9:40 PM ET
RHP Carlos Carrasco (1-2, 12.60 ERA) vs. RHP Erik Swanson (0-0, 9.00)
TV: Fox Sports SportsTime Ohio (all); ROOTNW (all); MLB.tv (all)
Radio (all): Cleveland Indians Radio Network; 710 ESPN (Seattle)
TRANSACTIONS and INJURY NOTES:
Gerson Bautista (P) – 10-day injured list (3/17) – Grade 1 right pectoral strain
Sal Biasi (P) – acquired in trade with Milwaukee Brewers (4/14)
Chasen Bradford (P) – 10-day injured list (4/9) – right shoulder inflammation
David Freitas (C) – traded to Milwaukee Brewers (4/14)
Wade LeBlanc (P) – 10-day injured list (4/13) – Grade 2 right oblique strain
Kyle Seager (3B) – 60-day injured list (3/17) – recovery from March 2019 left hand surgery
Hunter Strickland (RP) – 60-day injured list (3/30) – right lat strain
Sam Tuivailala (P) – 10-day injured list (3/19) – recovery from August 2018 right Achilles tendon surgery
Cody Anderson (P) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (4/13)
Mike Clevinger (SP) – 60-day injured list (4/9) – right upper back/Teres major muscle strain
Jon Edwards (RP) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (4/13)
Carlos Gonzalez (OF) – contract purchased from Triple-A Columbus (4/14)
Jason Kipnis (2B) – activated from 10-day injured list (4/15)
Francisco Lindor (SS) – 10-day injured list (3/28); right calf strain, sprained left ankle; on rehab assignment
Jordan Luplow (OF) – optioned to Triple-A Columbus (4/13)
Brad Miller (2B) – designated for assignment (4/15)
Jefry Rodriguez (P) – recalled from Triple-A Columbus (4/13); optioned to Triple-A Columbus (4/14)
Danny Salazar (P) – 60-day injured list (3/24); right shoulder rehab
Bradley Zimmer (OF) – 10-day injured list (3/28); right shoulder rehab
BOMBS OVER SEATTLE
MARINERS’ KEY ADDITIONS: Addition P Gerson Bautista, SS Tim Beckham, OF Jay Bruce, SS J.P. Crawford, DH Edwin Encarnacion, SP Yusei Kikucki, P Tommy Milone, OF Tom Murphy, C Omar Narvaez, OF Domingo Santana, SP Justus Sheffield, OF Mallex Smith, RP Hunter Strickland, RP Anthony Swarzak, OF Eric Young Jr.
MARINERS’ KEY SUBTRACTIONS: IF Gordon Beckham, 2B Robinson Cano, RP Alex Colome, DH Nelson Cruz, CL Edwin Diaz, RP Zach Duke, OF Ben Gamel, SP Hisashi Iwakuma, OF Cameron Maybin, RP Juan Nicasio, P James Pazos, SP James Paxton, P Erasmo Ramirez, RP Marc Rzepczynski, 1B Carlos Santana, SS Jean Segura, OF Denard Span, OF Ichiro Suzuki, RP Adam Warren, P Rob Whalen, C Mike Zunino
Former Indians outfielder Bruce leads the Mariners with seven homers on the season. He has driven in 13 runs and has been an extra base machine, with nine of his ten hits falling for two bases or better. He is hitting just .169 with a .265 on-base percentage, but a .559 slugging mark.
Big Daniel Vogelbach has settled in nicely at first base for the M’s and is second on the homer-happy club with six long balls this season, including a go-ahead homer in the tenth inning in the series finale in Kansas City on Thursday. He has done more than hit the ball far though, as he has posted a .378/.478/.973 slash through his first 12 games with four doubles and 11 RBI to his credit.
Encarnacion has gotten off to a better April start than usual while in his first season in Seattle. He is hitting .283 and has a .409 on-base percentage through 14 games with four homers and a dozen runs batted in. He leads the Mariners in walks with ten.
Dee Gordon is a perfect 7-for-7 swiping bases this year and has been good at the plate too, hitting .323. Outfielder Smith, who returned to the organization in the offseason trade that sent Zunino to Tampa Bay, has stolen six bases in six tries.
TRYING TO RIGHT THE SHIP
The lack of protection in the lineup may be a factor in a recent influx of walks for Tribe first baseman Santana, who has walked 12 times on the year to boost a .383 batting average to an impressive .508 on-base percentage. Eight of those walks have come in his last 24 plate appearances over the last week. He has 18 hits on the season, including four doubles and a homer, and he is the team’s leader in RBI with ten.
Leonys Martin will return to another former home on this road trip and will continue his much better hitting after a slow start at the plate. In the last week, he has hit .429 with a .571 on-base percentage and a .905 slugging mark with a double, three homers, and four runs batted in. He has also drawn more walks (6) than strikeouts (5) in that stretch, bucking an early trend. Martin played for the Mariners in 2016 and 2017.
The infielder Miller, who was designated for assignment to make room for Kipnis, was a curious cut for the Tribe, who elected to retain the unimpressive bat work of both Max Moroff (0-for-9 in five games) and Eric Stamets (.067/.167/.067 line with just one hit, two walks, and two RBI on the year) in the middle infield. Miller was hitting .389 over the last week with three doubles, a homer, and three RBI, and had some parting words for the organization on the way out. Kipnis will jump back into the lineup quickly, with Lindor on the horizon, so Stamets’ stay could end in the near future as well.
TAKE ME HOME
The Indians will take Thursday off after dealing with their cross-country travel from Seattle to Cleveland. They will then host a pair of National League East foes, the Atlanta Braves and Miami Marlins, in back-to-back interleague sets from Progressive Field with a day off in between. Seattle, with its six-game homestand in the books, will head down the Pacific coast to Anaheim for a four-game set with the Angels before a two-gamer in San Diego with the Padres beginning Tuesday night.
Photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images