A first inning grand slam by former Indian Jay Bruce highlighted a ten-run shellacking by Seattle in Cleveland on Sunday as the Mariners routed the Tribe in a 10-0 two-hit shutout.
For the first time in 13 tries this season, the Mariners (19-17) defeated a team with a winning record and salvaged the season series against the Indians (18-14) by avoiding a second sweep against Cleveland in the final game between the two clubs this year. The win ended their six-game losing streak.
The game was all but decided in the top of the first. Cody Anderson was called up from Triple-A Columbus to make his first start since 2016, but he lasted just two-thirds of an inning. Dee Gordon popped to short to start the game before Mitch Haniger walked on five pitches and Daniel Vogelbach reached on six. Edwin Encarnacion lined a single to left to load the bases up and Bruce won a long battle with Anderson, driving a seventh-pitch changeup over the wall in right-center for the first inning grand slam. His American League lead-tying eleventh home run of the season and eighth grand slam of his career gave the Mariners a 4-0 lead.
Anderson struck out Tim Beckham in another long at bat and added a third walk in the frame to Omar Narvaez, but at 38 pitches on the afternoon, manager Terry Francona went to the mound for reliever Jon Edwards. He issued a walk before an inning-ending groundout to Braden Bishop.
The Mariners added another run in the second with their second homer of the game. Facing Edwards in his second inning of work, Haniger deposited a 1-2 pitch to the bleachers in left to make it 5-0. Tyler Olson gave up a pair of singles in a scoreless third, but he struggled through the fourth after giving up a leadoff single to Bishop. Gordon moved the runner to second before an intentional walk of Haniger, but Vogelbach knocked in the sixth run of the game with a single to right. Haniger was thrown out at third on the play and Francona was back out to the mound for right-hander Dan Otero. After falling behind in the count 3-1, Otero missed over the plate and Encarnacion took his parrot for another walk with a two-run homer to left to make it 8-0.
Rookie right-hander Erik Swanson shut down the Indians lineup throughout the afternoon. He retired the first ten batters that he faced before back-to-back walks of Jason Kipnis and Jose Ramirez in the fourth inning, but the pair were stranded in scoring position after a groundout by Carlos Santana and a fly to left by Carlos Gonzalez.
The Mariners added two more in the fifth against Otero. Narvaez doubled to deep center with one out and moved to third on a double by Dylan Moore that right fielder Tyler Naquin lost in the sun. Bishop scored two with a single to right, his second hit of the game, to make it 10-0. The last run came courtesy of a fine slide by Moore around the tag attempt of catcher Kevin Plawecki.
The Indians added another walk in the fifth against Swanson, but remained hitless until two outs in the sixth when Ramirez doubled to right. He was stranded at second on a pop to second by Santana.
Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless inning of relief in the seventh, allowing a single by Narvaez. Neil Ramirez pitched a perfect eighth as did backup catcher Plawecki, who made his second scoreless relief appearance of the season in the ninth.
Cleveland tallied one more hit on the afternoon in the ninth, when Ramirez singled to center off of Zac Rosscup. It was the only blemish in an easy inning for the Mariners reliever, who struck out Kipnis before the hit and Santana and Roberto Perez after to end the ball game.
The win for Swanson was the first of his Major League career in five attempts. The 25-year-old right-hander had lost all three of his previous starts, despite a quality effort against the Indians in his first MLB start on April 17. He limited the Indians to two hits and three walks while striking out two in six innings of work. On the year against Cleveland, Swanson allowed just one run on four hits with three walks and seven strikeouts in 12 innings of work.
“I thought early on, he’s got good ride on his fastball so he’s kinda beating us,” said Francona. “As he got into the game, you could see him gaining confidence, starting throwing a good changeup which really gave us fits.”
Bishop’s single to start the fourth was the first hit of his MLB career. He added his first two big league RBI with his second hit of the ball game in the next inning. The 25-year-old was 0-for-8 to start his career before the fourth inning hit.
NEW RELIEF ARM?
Plawecki entered in the ninth inning for Francona to save the heavily used bullpen. He retired Encarnacion on a liner to short, Bruce on a grounder to short, and Beckham on a fly to shallow center after exploding his bat on a 64 MPH curveball.
On the year, Plawecki has retired all six batters that he has faced. It was the second time that he made a garbage time trip to the mound (April 21 versus Atlanta) and the fourth career relief appearance for the Indians’ backup catcher.
To add Anderson to the 25-man roster, the Indians designated utility man Max Moroff for assignment. Moroff had appeared in 20 games for the Indians this season (including seven starts), getting four hits in 35 plate appearances (.125 average) with a double, a homer, and four runs batted in. He struck out 16 times and drew just two walks (.176 on-base percentage).
Anderson threw simulated innings in the cages during the game to make up for his short outing, one that limited him to just two-thirds of an inning and 38 pitches (20 strikes).
“The ball came out of his hand really good. He threw a couple of really good changeups. He just couldn’t command the ball,” said Francona. “It was deep counts and walks. Then he got into the stretch and got into trouble there. Coming off of what he did, that was a long inning. We took him out, gave him a breather, he went into the cage, and threw two 15-pitch sim innings just to get him up to 65, 68, just so his next start won’t be handcuffed.”
After going 2-for-3 and getting both Indians hits on the day, Ramirez’s batting average has climbed back to the .200 level for the first time since April 1, the fourth game of the season.
“He’s going to get hot. I know I’ve said it a bunch,” said Francona. “He’ll get hot and it’ll be really welcomed. Hopefully he’ll take some guys with him.”
FUN WITH NUMBERS
The Mariners outscored the Indians 21-18 in the six-game season series between the two clubs. They went 1-5. The previous five games of the season series were decided by two runs or less.
Former Cleveland Cavaliers fan favorite Channing Frye threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Sunday’s game. His offering was well wide of the left-handed batter’s box and went all the way to the backstop. The 13-year NBA forward/center announced his retirement from professional basketball just prior to the conclusion of the 2018-19 regular season slate. He played parts of four seasons in Cleveland, appearing in 26 games for the team’s 2015-16 championship club, 74 games in 2016-17, 44 games in 2017-18, and 36 games this season.
A NEW PAIR OF SOX
The Indians will kick off a four-game series with the Chicago White Sox this week to conclude their seven-game homestand, beginning with Monday night’s series opener at 6:10 PM ET. Trevor Bauer (4-1, 2.45 ERA) will take the ball first for Cleveland against Chicago right-hander Ivan Nova (0-3, 8.33).
The Mariners will head to New York to play four times against the Yankees, starting Monday night.
Photo: Jason Miller/Getty Images