By Jim Hoehn and Bob Sherwin
Special to MLB.com |
SEATTLE -- Tyler Naquin delivered a two-run home run in the eighth inning to help carry the Indians to a 5-3 victory over the Mariners that secured a split of the four-game series at Safeco Field on Thursday night.
"There's something to be said for continuing to plug away," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "We fought back to take a lead and we had it for about 30 seconds, then off some pretty good pitchers, we found ways to score. We had to hang on like crazy."
With the score tied, 2-2, in the eighth, Rajai Davis reached on a one-out walk. Naquin then sent an 0-2 pitch from Joaquin Benoit over the right-field wall for his fourth homer. The Indians added another unearned run set up by Benoit's two-base throwing error.
"Benoit's got some good stuff. I know his best secondary's a split," Naquin said. "That was always in the back of my mind, but he's always had the heater. To see that split up, it wasn't really that up in the zone, but just enough."
The Mariners didn't go down easy, however. Robinson Cano hit a solo homer, his second of the game and 18th of the season, off Bryan Shaw in the bottom of the eighth to cut the lead to 5-3. Then Kyle Seager singled and Adam Lind walked with two outs, prompting the Indians to turn to closer Cody Allen, who escaped the jam en route to a four-out save, his 13th save in 14 opportunities this season.
"That was a big game," Allen said. "We needed that game, especially on our way out. To win that last game of a series, even though it's a split. A four-game series is tough to win, take three out of four or even sweep, so to split. That's a good team over there, so to split with them and get out of here and head off on a good note, that will be good for the rest of our trip."
The late fireworks came after an early-game pitcher's duel.
Cleveland starter Josh Tomlin allowed two runs on nine hits and fanned four over 6 1/3 innings in a no-decision. Dan Otero, who finished the seventh inning for Cleveland, got the win. Mariners starter Nathan Karns allowed one run on just two hits, but too many free passes led to an exit after only 4 1/3 innings.
Seattle pitchers issued a season-high eight walks, five by Karns, and three would score.
"We didn't control the strike zone tonight. That's the name of the game for us and it's been that way all year," manager Scott Servais said. "Walks came and got us. We battled. We were in it right until the end. Really good at-bats to give us a chance at the end. Just not enough. The walks really got us tonight."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Ninth-inning nail-biter: With two aboard and two outs, Cano came up representing the winning run, but Allen struck him out on a full-count breaking ball. The ball got away from catcher Chris Gimenez, but he recovered in time to throw out Cano at first and end the game, giving Allen his 13th save in 14 opportunities this season.
"I kind of put myself in a spot. I had those two guys 0-2 and didn't make very good pitches," Allen said. "They're good hitters and put good swings on them and forced myself to try and get a really good hitter out in a big spot. You try and navigate where you don't want to get to those guys."
Cano's big night: Cano accomplished something that he had never done in his 373 previous games with the Mariners, delivering three extra-base hits with two home runs and a double. He had done that 18 times previously in his career, all with the New York Yankees. The last came on Sept. 13, 2013 against Boston.
"It's good, but could have been better,'' Cano said. "I love to win games. The one who wins is the one who celebrates.'' More >
Ramirez just misses slam: The Indians barely missed taking the lead in the fifth when Jose Ramirez's long drive on a 1-1 pitch from Seattle's Mike Montgomery with the bases loaded hooked just outside the left-field foul pole. He then punched an RBI single to right.
Lindor, Cruz trade outs at home: In the first inning, Seattle's Nelson Cruz tried to score from first base on Seager's double off the top of the left-field wall, but Francisco Lindor made a perfect relay throw from short to get Cruz at home to end the inning. In the fifth, Lindor tried to score from second on a bases-loaded single to right by Ramirez, but Cruz threw him out at home.
"I knew he was going to try and score," Lindor said of the first-inning play. "It was early in the game and he wanted to score. I knew [third-base coach] Manny Acta is very aggressive sending runners, so I wanted to make sure I got one good hop over there."
Preventative measure: Mariners center fielder Norichika Aoki prevented at least two runs and probably three in the second inning with a warning-track catch of a bases-loaded blast by Carlos Santana. Santana lifted a two-out shot that sliced into the left-center gap. Aoki made a long run, stretched out with his backhand, caught it then skidded to the ground.
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The Mariners rotation has stepped up with ace Felix Hernandez sidelined. Entering Thursday's game with Cleveland, Seattle starters had four straight outings in which they'd worked at least six innings and allowed one run or fewer. They combined for a 0.64 ERA and .163 opposing batting average. The club record is six straight. Karns held the Indians to one run Thursday but worked just 4 1/3 innings.
With two outs in the first, Cruz was thrown out at home trying to score from first on Seager's double off the top of the outfield wall in left. A review was used to determine whether Seager's drive was a home run. The call was confirmed after a review estimated at 56 seconds.
Seattle's Ketel Marte doubled into shallow left in the second, sliding in ahead of the throw from Davis. The Indians challenged and the call was overturned after a review of about 1:04.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: Right-hander Corey Kluber (5-6, 3.84 ERA) starts the opener of the three-game series against the Angels in Anaheim on Friday. Kluber tossed six scoreless innings in his last start, allowing just three hits in a 7-0 victory over Kansas City. He is 0-2 with a 5.51 ERA in three previous outings against the Angels. First pitch is scheduled for 10:05 p.m. ET.
Mariners: Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (4-5, 4.13) begins a three-game set with American League West leader Texas, which swept the Mariners last weekend in Arlington. Iwakuma lost to the Rangers Sunday, 3-2, as he allowed four hits and three runs in his seven innings. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. PT.