Shane Bieber allowed just one run while pitching into the seventh inning and the Indians offense scored four times with two outs to help defeat the host Seattle Mariners by a 4-2 final.
The Indians fell behind two innings in, as the Mariners got a gift run from Bieber in the second to give veteran right-hander Mike Leake the early lead to work with. After getting former Tribe sluggers Edwin Encarnacion and Jay Bruce to fly out to center to set down his first five in a row, Bieber lost Tim Beckham on a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch to Ryon Healy allowed Beckham to motor all the way to third as catcher Kevin Plawecki could not find the ball. Healy drew a six-pitch walk to put runners on the corners and catcher Tom Murphy started his big game at the plate with an RBI-single to left to put Seattle up, 1-0.
Leake faced the minimum over the first three innings, using double play balls in the first and third to erase singles by Leonys Martin and Jake Bauers. It looked like the Indians were going to run themselves out of the fourth inning on bad luck again, as Martin singled for a second straight trip, but was caught stealing second. Jose Ramirez dropped in a single to left before he was forced out at second on a fielder’s choice off of the bat of Jason Kipnis. With the inning in the balance, Carlos Santana once again delivered as he knocked in Kipnis with a double to the gap in right-center to tie the game at one. One pitch later, the Indians had the lead as Hanley Ramirez singled to left to score Santana from second.
Bieber pitched around some potential trouble in the bottom of the frame, as he struck out two around a two-out throwing error by Mike Freeman. The Indians left Plawecki at second in the fifth after a one-out double, and the first two reached against Bieber in the home half, but Plawecki gunned down Dee Gordon for the first time this season as he tried to swipe third base after his leadoff walk and an infield single by Mallex Smith. Mitch Haniger flew out with Smith standing at second and Domingo Santana struck out looking to leave the tying run in scoring position.
Both clubs wasted doubles in the sixth before the Indians used another two-out rally in the seventh to extend their lead. Roenis Elias took over on the mound for the second straight night, this time in relief of Leake after six quality innings of work. Tyler Naquin saw ten pitches, fouling off five straight 2-2 pitches, before pulling a single to right. Bauers and Plawecki were each retired on outs in the air, but Freeman made up for his earlier error by hitting a single to left, allowing Naquin to score. Max Moroff pinch-ran for Freeman and he came in to score on a double to the left of center by Martin for his third hit of the game to give the Indians a 4-1 lead.
Bieber left after giving up a leadoff double to Murphy to start the seventh. Oliver Perez had a much better outing than the night before, retiring the only two batters that he faced on pop ups in the infield. Neil Ramirez struck out Haniger swinging on four pitches to end the seventh.
The Indians left another runner in scoring position in the top of the eighth, as Kipnis singled to start the inning, stole second easily, and moved to third on a fly out by H. Ramirez, but Naquin struck out two pitches after fouling a ball off of his leg to end the threat.
Seattle kept the game close and extended its home run streak in the bottom of the eighth. Santana drew a leadoff walk, but Encarnacion grounded a fastball at the bottom of the zone straight to shortstop, where Moroff started a 6-4-3 double play. It proved to be a key play in the ball game, as Bruce sent the next offering over the wall in center for his eighth home run of the season, extending the Mariners’ home run streak to start the season to 19 straight games, a Major League record to start a year and four games short of matching the longest such stretch at any point in a season in Seattle franchise history. Beckham grounded to J. Ramirez at third to end any further rally efforts.
Cleveland left two more in scoring position in the ninth after a walk by Bauers, a single by Plawecki, and a sacrifice by Moroff, but Martin and J. Ramirez each popped out to leave two more men on base.
In the bottom of the ninth, looking for his second save in as many days, Brad Hand struck out Healy before Murphy doubled to left for his third hit of the night. With the tying run at the plate, Hand got Gordon to fly to right, where Greg Allen made a diving catch running in on the ball, and Smith to line to Kipnis at second to end the ball game.
The Indians (9-7) secured a series win in Seattle with their second straight victory and just their third on the road in nine games this season. It did not come pretty, as the team needed timely clutch hitting to make up for plenty of missed opportunities over nine innings. The lineup was just 2-for-13 with runners in scoring position and they left seven men. To their benefit, the Mariners were even worse in similar situations at the plate, going 1-for-11 with eight men stranded.
“We left some guys on base, but we kept at it,” said Tribe skipper Terry Francona. “We had some really good at bats, especially with two outs. And then off the lefty, Naquin’s at bat to start the [seventh] inning, I thought that set the whole inning up.”
The Mariners (13-6) have now lost five straight games and are just 5-4 at T-Mobile Park this season.
BIEBER BIG AGAIN
Bieber made it six-plus innings on the night, giving up a double to the only batter that he faced in the seventh before turning the game over to the bullpen. He allowed a run on four hits, walking three while striking out five. He threw 106 pitches, including 64 strikes, and moved to 2-0 on the season. He dropped his season ERA to 1.71 and his WHIP to 0.81 with his third straight quality start of the year.
“I don’t think it was his best command,” shared Francona, “but man, he battled. The one inning, he walked two and almost walked a third. I don’t think he’s ever done that in his career. But he battled and he gave us a chance to win.
“His changeup’s becoming more effective. Breaking ball. Just knowing the league a little bit. It’s not his first time going through everywhere. He gets to watch the other guys, how they attack hitters. He’s a smart kid, pays attention.”
Bieber is now 9-0 on the road in his career. He is the first to win his first nine road decisions to start a career since Boston’s Earl Wilson did so from 1959 to 1962.
MARTIN LIVES FOR THE ROAD
Martin paced the offense from the top spot again as he continued a hot road trip. He contributed his third three-hit game of the trip and is now 12-for-31 (.387) with one more game from Seattle on Wednesday night. He has driven in five runs, hit two doubles and three homers, and he has walked six times. His batting average has jumped from .148 to .276 as a result of his recent hitting tear. He has been held hitless just twice during the trip and has been kept off base only once (in Monday’s opener in Seattle).
EVERYONE JOINS THE PARADE
While Indians pitching limited the Mariners to just six hits (three by Murphy), every Indians starter joined the hit parade with at least one knock. In addition to Martin’s big game, Kipnis had two hits and now has three on the year in his first two games off of the injured list. Plawecki had his first two-hit game of the season.
Prior to the game, the Indians purchased the contract of the utility man Freeman from Triple-A Columbus and optioned out the scuffling Eric Stamets, who had just two hits in his first 48 plate appearances on the year (.049 batting average and .149 on-base percentage).
GRAB THE DUST PAN
The Indians will go for their second series sweep of the season as they look to quiet the slugging Seattle offense for a third straight game.
Right-hander Carlos Carrasco (1-2, 12.60 ERA) will be tasked with the job of keeping the ball in the yard for Cleveland as he looks to bounce back from a rough start his last time out in Kansas City. He lasted just two-thirds of an inning, allowing six runs on six hits with a walk and a strikeout in his second ugly outing on the year.
The Mariners will call on rookie righty Erik Swanson (0-0, 9.00 ERA), who will make his first Major League start and just his second career appearance overall. The 25-year-old worked two innings out of the Seattle bullpen earlier in the year, allowing two runs on three hits with four walks and two strikeouts. He was acquired by the Mariners in the offseason in the trade that brought former Indians pitching prospect Justus Sheffield over from the New York Yankees for James Paxton.
First pitch of the finale from Seattle is scheduled for a 6:40 PM ET start on Wednesday night.
Photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty Images