SEATTLE -- Jose Ramirez slugged a home run to right-center field to lead off the sixth inning and Corey Kluber struck out 10 over seven innings, his 15th double-digit strikeout game of the season, becoming the American League's first 18-game winner as the Indians edged the Mariners, 4-2, at Safeco Field on Sunday.
While Seattle was eliminated from postseason contention, Cleveland remains in the driver's seat for the AL's best record, leading Houston by two and a half games after the Astros' 7-5 loss to the Angels on Sunday night. The Indians still trail the Dodgers by one game for the best mark in the Majors, as Los Angeles also won on Sunday.
"Everybody is excited to get back to the playoffs," Indians catcher Roberto Perez said. "We didn't accomplish what we wanted last year. I think everybody is on the same page and everybody is hungry. We're playing the game the right way. The veterans are doing their job. It's nice to see everyone come along. Hopefully, we carry that into the playoffs."
With the win, the Indians' ended their road slate with a 53-28 record away from Progressive Field. That is not only the most road wins in the Majors this year, but the most in a single season in franchise history.
After Edwin Encarnacion and Jason Kipnis ripped RBI doubles in the fourth to give the Indians a 2-0 lead, Ben Gamel tied the game with a two-out, two-run homer to right-center in the fifth, his 11th of the season.
Ramirez, who finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, ripped his 29th home run a Statcast™-projected 401-feet off Mariners' starter Mike Leake to break the 2-2 tie in the sixth.
"You have to be on your game, especially when you're facing their guy," Leake said. "It's just unfortunate that I got behind in a couple of at-bats and put a couple of pitches where they can hit it."
Gamel's homer was all the Mariners could muster off Kluber, who allowed two runs (both unearned) on six hits while fanning 10 batters and issuing two walks over seven innings. Kluber's 18th win set a career high and tied Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw for the MLB lead. His 15 double-digit strikeout performances is the second most in the MLB this season -- the Red Sox's Chris Sale leads with 18.
"I don't know if I would consider it a run," said Indians manager Terry Francona, referring to Kluber's 22-start stretch with a 1.62 ERA, dating back to June 1. "I think he's just that good. Once he gets comfortable and gets his leg under him in a season, man, he pitches at such a high level."
Leake allowed three runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking none over 6 2/3 innings. He's posted a quality start in each of his five outings since the Mariners acquired him on Aug. 30 in a waiver trade with the Cardinals. He owns a 2.53 ERA during that stretch.
"I thought he threw the ball outstanding, just like he has every time out there," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "Very competitive, kept us right in the ballgame. Just made a couple of mistakes."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Jackson's great grab: With one out and runners on first and second in the fourth, Yonder Alonso sliced a pitch from Kluber deep into the left-center gap. Left fielder Austin Jackson ran it down for a three-star catch (58-percent catch probability, per Statcast™), and was able to initiate an inning-ending double play. With Kyle Seager far off first, Jackson quickly fired to shortstop Francisco Lindor, who got the ball to Encarnacion just in time for a rally-killing relay.
"The turning play in the game was the ball Jackson went back and caught," Servais said. "Change of momentum. Kind of changed everything there. … It was a great play. [Seager] was trying to be aggressive, knowing he was the tying run there if the ball gets over his head. Maybe got a step or two farther than he should. I mean, he was only out by a step, and it had to take absolutely the perfect relay throw to get him. He was reading the ball good, trying to be aggressive."
Kipnis buys insurance: The Indians gave closer Cody Allen a little extra breathing room for the ninth via an add-on run in the eighth. Encarnacion doubled, moved to third on a Jay Bruce single and then scored on a sacrifice fly from Kipnis. With the season winding down, Kipnis has not only been learning a new position (center field), but is trying to get his offensive timing back after a stint on the disabled list. In his past three games, Kipnis has gone 5-for-10 with a pair of doubles.
"I think he's getting closer and closer," Francona said. "The more at-bats he gets, the better off he's going to be. By the time we get through next week, he's got a chance for maybe 30 more at-bats. That'll be really helpful for him."
"It was a great play on both ends. Obviously, it was a big point in the game. If that gets by [Jackson], it's potentially a tie game at that point. If not, they have two guys in scoring position. A great catch, first of all, and then a really good relay throw, too. Two big outs." -- Kluber, on Jackson's catch in the fourth
"He's the Cy Young. I think he's clearly the Cy Young. That doesn't take anything away from Chris Sale. I think he's clearly the No. 2 and would be the Cy Young any other year that Corey Kluber's not pitching like this."-- Kipnis, on Kluber
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Crew chief Sam Holbrook, at Indians manager Terry Francona's request, reviewed a foul-ball call in the second inning on Encarnacion's line drive into the second deck down the left-field line. The call was confirmed, as it was determined that the ball hooked left of the foul pole.
WHAT'S NEXT Indians: After a team off-day on Monday, right-hander Josh Tomlin (9-9, 4.98 ERA) is scheduled to take the ball for the Tribe in a 7:10 p.m. ET tilt against the Twins on Tuesday at Progressive Field. Tomlin has gone 5-0 with a 2.74 ERA in his last eight outings.
Mariners:Felix Hernandez (5-5, 4.57 ERA) will receive the ball at 7:05 p.m. PT Monday as the Mariners begin a three-game series against the A's in Oakland. Hernandez will make his third start since being activated from the disabled list on Sept. 13. He missed 38 games with right shoulder bursitis.