SEATTLE -- The Indians came in as one of the hottest teams in baseball. The Mariners were trying to right their ship at home. On Monday night, the series between the two contending American League clubs swung in Cleveland's direction once again, as right-hander Trevor Bauer outpitched Seattle left-hander James Paxton in a 3-1 victory at Safeco Field.
While the Tribe has now won six consecutive games to remain in first place in the AL Central, the Mariners' slump continued. They have lost four in a row and fell to four games behind the Rangers in the AL West.
"It seems like it doesn't really matter who we throw out there defensively, pitching … we seem to get the job done," Indians outfielder Rajai Davis said. "And no matter who's on the mound on the other side, it really doesn't get into the minds of these guys. We're going out there battling. We're putting really good innings together, rally innings where we can put up a bunch of runs together. It's been really nice."
The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Ketel Marte singled, stole second base, moved to third on a Shawn O'Malley groundout and scored on a single by Norichika Aoki. But that lead didn't last long. The Indians capitalized on an error in the fourth to take a 2-1 lead they wouldn't relinquish. Davis added an insurance run with a homer in the fifth.
Bauer took care of most of the rest. He pitched a season-high 7 2/3 innings and struck out a season-high 10 batters to improve to 4-2. Paxton also struck out 10 in an impressive outing for the Mariners.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Bauer power: Bauer didn't record a strikeout through the first three innings, but finished with 10. None were bigger than the one that ended the sixth inning. With a runner on second and the Safeco Field crowd rallying behind its team's hottest hitter, Kyle Seager, Bauer came up big, striking him out on a curveball and clapping his right hand to his glove demonstrably as he strutted off the mound.
"He had all four pitches working tonight," Mariners manager Scott Servais said of Bauer. "That was the key. It wasn't just two. He had the cutter, the changeup, he elevated the fastball, the curveball was there for him. He had very good stuff." More >
Risky running rewards Tribe: With the Indians trailing, 1-0, in the fourth inning, Carlos Santana singled with one out. Jose Ramirez followed with a double to left field, and Santana decided to test Seattle's defense. Seth Smith made a good relay throw to Mariners shortstop Marte, who fired a strike home, but Seattle catcher Chris Iannetta dropped the ball for an error that tied the score and allowed Ramirez to take third. The next batter, Juan Uribe, cashed in with a sacrifice fly to right that gave Cleveland a 2-1 lead.
"That's what happens when you're aggressive and at least you have a chance," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "When a pitcher's throwing 99 mph, you take your chances when you get them." More >
Diaz's dynamic debut: Mariners right-hander Edwin Diaz, called up Saturday from Double-A Jackson, made his big league debut to start the seventh inning with Seattle trailing, 3-1. The hard-throwing Diaz, who was 3-3 with a 2.21 ERA at Jackson, pitched a perfect inning, sandwiching a pair of 5-3 groundouts around a strikeout. The 22-year-old Diaz, the Mariners' third-round selection in the 2012 Draft, made his final 10 appearances for Jackson out of the bullpen after six starts.
"I think our people in player development on the Minor League side, I need to tip my hat to them," Servais said. "Awesome job getting that young kid ready to pitch in the big leagues. I think he's only pitched nine or 10 outings out of the bullpen in his career. He was calm, he knew what he was going to do and he executed. Great job. Certainly I think he's earned the chance to stay for a little longer." More >
Unearned runs cost Paxton: In each of his two starts, Paxton has been victimized by unearned runs. Both runs in the fourth inning were unearned because of Iannetta's error. In Paxton's first start on Wednesday, he allowed eight runs in 3 2/3 innings in a 14-6 loss at San Diego, but just three of the runs were earned.
"I just missed it. I just made an error. It never bounced, I just missed it," Iannetta said. "You're going to make errors. I don't want to do it. I pride myself on my defense. I'm really good back there on plays like that. I've missed three this year that have gone off my glove.
"I'll be out early tomorrow working on it. It's been a strength of mine my whole career and it will be going forward."
"My thought was, 'Thank you, Seattle air.'" -- Bauer, on Smith's deep eighth-inning flyout landing in Davis' glove at the wall
Marte, activated from the disabled list on Monday, struggled early in the field. Leadoff hitter Davis reached on an infield single off Marte's glove, and the next hitter, Jason Kipnis, reached on Marte's fielding error, but neither scored. The Mariners' shortstop made up for it with his single and run in the third. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Cody Anderson (1-3, 6.81 ERA) will return from Triple-A Columbus for Tuesday's 10:10 p.m. ET game against the Mariners. The Indians shuffled their rotation to give Danny Salazar (right shoulder fatigue) more rest. Anderson will be optioned back to Columbus after the game.
Mariners: Left-hander Wade Miley (5-2, 5.85 ERA) escaped with a no-decision on Thursday despite allowing nine runs on 12 hits in 4 2/3 innings as the Mariners rallied from a 12-2 deficit to win, 16-13, in San Diego. Miley is 4-0 in his last seven starts, despite a 5.18 ERA over that span.