One-time top Tribe pitching prospect Justus Sheffield shut down his former club, working six quality innings while his teammates provided plenty of punch to knock out Triston McKenzie and the visiting Cleveland Indians in a 7-3 rout on Saturday night from T-Mobile Park.
Sheffield, one of several prospects dealt by the Indians to the New York Yankees ahead of the 2016 trade deadline for All-Star reliever Andrew Miller, worked his way through some trouble but gave the Mariners some length at the center of the diamond. His teammates did the heavy working from there, tagging McKenzie for five runs before he headed to the showers for the day.
The Indians left a runner at second against Sheffield in the first after Jose Ramirez’s two-out double was chased by a grounder to short by Franmil Reyes. The Mariners made the Tribe pay for the runner left on base two batters later, as Mitch Haniger continued to flex his muscles with his 12th homer of the season, putting Seattle up by a 1-0 count. McKenzie gave up a double to Kyle Seager two pitches later, but left him at second with his second and third strikeouts of the inning.
McKenzie settled in for a stretch, retiring the side in order in the second and third frames with a strikeout in each inning. Sheffield pitched a 1-2-3 third of his own, but got into trouble again in the fourth. J. Ramirez doubled to lead off the inning, but he was retired at third on a fielder’s choice grounder to third by Reyes. E. Rosario drew a walk to put two on for H. Ramirez, who lined to right for the second out. Naylor chopped into a fielder’s choice to squander the scoring threat.
Seattle took advantage of some wildness from McKenzie in the fourth to rip the game open. Seager and Kyle Lewis both walked to start the inning. McKenzie got Jose Marmolejos to fly to left for the first out, but Dylan Moore’s fly to center was hit too far for the ball park to contain. His three-run jack gave the M’s a 4-0 lead. J.P. Crawford doubled to left, but McKenzie got the next two to evade further harm.
Sheffield set down the Tribe in order again in the fifth before his offense tacked on another and knocked McKenzie out of the game. Jarred Kelenic struck out swinging to open the inning, but Haniger singled and Seager walked. Cal Quantrill took over on the mound and gave up a single to Lewis to load the bases and Marmolejos added to the Mariners’ tally with a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Haniger to make it 5-0. Quantrill punched out Moore swinging to strand a pair.
The Indians finally did damage to Sheffield in his final inning of work in the sixth. Jordan Luplow walked and moved to third on the third two-base hit of the game by J. Ramirez. Reyes grounded out to second to score Luplow and E. Rosario grounded to first to plate J. Ramirez, but with the threats now removed from the bases in the 5-2 game, H. Ramirez flied to right.
Quantrill worked around a two-out single by Donovan Walton in the sixth and Nick Wittgren pitched a perfect inning for the Tribe in the seventh. Drew Steckenrider worked a perfect top of the seventh for Seattle and Will Vest walked J. Ramirez in an otherwise uneventful eighth for Cleveland.
Seattle got some valuable insurance in the eighth against rookie Nick Sandlin. He walked Marmolejos to start the inning and Crawford one batter later. Tom Murphy flied to left for the second out, but Walton pushed two more in with a triple to right to give the M’s a 7-2 advantage.
Anthony Misiewicz pitched the ninth with a five-run lead and allowed one to cross on a big fly to left by H. Ramirez, his first of the year, but he worked his way through the rest of the inning with no further damage to send the Tribe back to the hotel losers for the second night in a row.
The Mariners moved to 20-20 on the season with their second win of the year over the Indians. Cleveland fell to 21-16 with the loss.
McKenzie showed a little bit of everything in his short body of work. He struck out six in just four and one-third innings, but also walked three and allowed five hits in that span. He was charged with five runs (all earned) to drop to 1-2 on the year with a 5.79 ERA.
Sheffield improved to 3-3 on the year with a quality start. Dodging some bullets along the way, he limited the Indians to two runs on five hits with a pair of walks and two strikeouts on 94.
Haniger had a pair of hits, including his 12th homer to tie the Major League lead, while driving in his 30th run of the year. Walton had two hits out of the nine-hole in his second game. Moore drove in three runs on his fifth homer in the fourth.
J. Ramirez had himself a perfect day at the plate, but his three hits accounted for half of the team’s tally for the night. He had three doubles and drew a walk while scoring one of Cleveland’s three runs. H. Ramirez had a pair of hits further down the lineup, including home run number one for the season.
The Indians and Mariners will meet up on Sunday afternoon for the finale of the four-game set from T-Mobile Park. Shane Bieber will look to play stopper for the Tribe, while Scott Servais is expected to use a bullpen game against Cleveland while seeking a series win and third straight victory.
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