Mariners drop heartbreaker in Cleveland

Mariners drop heartbreaker in Cleveland

Mariners drop heartbreaker in Cleveland
CLEVELAND -- Hector Noesi threw 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball Thursday, but the Indians conjured up a familiar storyline in rallying against Seattle's bullpen for a 6-5 victory in 11 innings, as the Mariners' road woes continued.

Former Mariners infielder Jose Lopez hit a three-run home run off Steve Delabar with two outs in the bottom of the eighth to tie the game at 4. After Michael Saunders put Seattle back in the lead with an RBI double in the top of the 11th, closer Brandon League gave up two runs in the bottom of the inning to take the loss.

It was League's seventh blown save in nine opportunities against the Indians and his second this season. The All-Star closer is 2-5 with a 9.18 ERA against Cleveland, and it was the third walk-off loss of his career at Progressive Field.

Last year, League gave up walk-off home runs to Travis Hafner and Shin-Soo Choo in two losses in Cleveland, but this time it was walks that harmed him, as he issued three freebies and a pair of RBI singles, the last one a rip up the middle by catcher Carlos Santana that ended the drama.

"My control was just absolutely unacceptable today," League said. "I can't remember the last time I walked three guys in a third of an inning. When I wasn't handing out free passes and I did get the ball down, it was right down the middle."

The Indians believe they've got League's number, a fair assumption given they've accounted for four of his eight blown saves over the past two seasons. Two of his three blown saves this year have been to the Tribe, the first coming April 19 in Safeco when Cleveland scored twice off League in the ninth for a 2-1 win after Felix Hernandez had thrown eight scoreless innings.

"I think it's probably in his mind, too," said Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, who worked one of the three walks off League and scored the winning run. "We know that we've done it off him before and I think we know we can do it again.

"Doing it off him before means guys have seen him and guys have had success against him. So I think people are pretty confident when they go up to the plate against him. They know what they're looking for. You saw what happened here today. We were patient, took our walks and got the base hits there at the end."

League walked two batters before Asdrubal Cabrera tied the game with a one-out RBI single. He then walked pinch-hitter Aaron Cunningham before Santana finished it off with his bases-loaded single up the middle.

Delabar also got himself in trouble with a leadoff walk in the eighth with a 4-1 lead. He then gave up a two-out double to Casey Kotchman before Lopez took a 2-0 fastball over the left-field fence.

"We gave 'em that game," said manager Eric Wedge. "Walks killed us early when we went to the bullpen, and walks killed us late. One thing this team is going to have to understand -- when you're in position to win ballgames, you've got to finish them off."

The Mariners continued their ongoing struggle of producing with runners in scoring position, as well, on a day they couldn't take advantage of eight hits and seven walks of their own, as they fell to 1-12 over their past 13 road games.

The Mariners were 2-for-18 with runners in scoring position and are now a woeful 8-for-96 (.083) over their past 13 road games and 5-for-51 (.098) on the current trip, which now heads to Colorado.

Seattle scored its first two runs -- in the third and fifth innings -- without the benefit of a hit, thanks to some wildness from Indians rookie right-hander Zach McAllister. The Mariners eventually took a 4-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh, but missed numerous opportunities to expand on that margin.

"We had some chances to blow it open there and just kind of scratched one out instead," said shortstop Brendan Ryan, who had a 2-for-3 day with two walks. "We need to get a four- or five-run inning and get ahead and step on their throat. We're just not putting games away.

"It just gets old being a young team having growing pains and all that stuff," Ryan said. "At some point, we have to figure it out and learn how to close games out."

Noesi gave up just one run on five hits with five strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings in a strong outing, but he got the no-decision and is now 2-4 with a 5.61 ERA.

"Noesi was fantastic today," said Wedge. "I was really pleased with the way he pitched."

But Noesi's lead went away when Lopez took Delabar deep in the eighth, when Wedge opted to go with him instead of Tom Wilhelmsen, in part because left-handers were hitting .042 (1-for-24) against Delabar and the Indians had a lefty-stacked lineup coming up.

But Delabar got into trouble, then left a pitch up to Lopez.

"Carl [Willis] came out and we said we wanted to work him down and away, but the ball got up and he put a piece of wood on it," Delabar said. "It was a 2-0 fastball and he was sitting on it. We were still trying to get the pitch down and away, but sometimes they don't go where you want them to go."

Which could be said of the Mariners' season, as well, as they fell to 1-6 on this road trip and 16-24 overall.

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.