Indians glimpse Marcum of old in scoreless start

Right-hander allows two hits over seven innings in series capper over Mariners

Indians glimpse Marcum of old in scoreless start

CLEVELAND -- Shaun Marcum has been back since April 12, when he pitched five innings in relief for the Indians, marking his first appearance in the big leagues since July of the 2013 season.

But he hasn't been back the way he was in Thursday's 6-0 victory against Seattle.

Marcum turned in his finest outing of the year, throwing seven scoreless innings while striking out five and allowing just three baserunners on a pair of hits. It was his longest outing since June 26, 2013, and he retired the first nine batters he faced, not allowing a hit until the fifth inning.

To Indians manager Terry Francona, it looked like the Marcum of years past, before his surgery to repair his Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.

"He's the same," Francona said. "In Spring Training, we needed to see him get stretched out and be able to bounce back, and in Triple-A, he went three starts in a row where he threw over 100 pitches. And now here, when he's this effective and can stay out there, that's really good to see."

Marcum threw 106 pitches, the first time he's eclipsed triple digits this season and his highest total since May 26, 2013, and he was a strike-throwing machine. He threw a first-pitch strike against 17 of 24 batters, and of his 106 pitches, 68 went for strikes.

Marcum, a fly-ball pitcher who had allowed at least one home run in every start before Thursday, was helped out by the strong wind blowing in at Progressive Field. But Giovanny Urshela proved that it was possible for balls to leave the yard, and Marcum kept them in by throwing lower in the zone than usual.

"Some of those guys like to pull the ball, and with the way the wind was blowing today, they were going to have to hit it a lot harder to get it out," Marcum said. "The main thing was keeping it down, and if they got one up in the air, most likely it was going to stay in the park."

Marcum has now lowered his season ERA to 4.04 and, outside of a poor start against Texas on May 25, he has been generally solid for Cleveland. In the 30 1/3 innings pitched around the Rangers game, Marcum's ERA is 1.78 with a 24:7 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

"It feels good," Marcum said. "It was nice to get out there and be able to locate the ball, take what I've been working on between starts and actually have it happen. It's nice to do that, but again, the guys went out and played behind me well, scored a lot of runs for me and played good defense. All in all, it was a pretty good day for everybody."

August Fagerstrom is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.