After starting the second half in a picture-perfect 4-1 victory over Seattle, Cleveland stayed true to form and followed the win up with three straight losses. Felix Hernandez, Jarrod Washburn, Erik Bedard, and a solid bullpen helped seal the Tribes’ fate.
With the lowest ERA in the American League, Seattle pitchers fooled Cleveland batters over the weekend as the Indians only managed 6 runs over the final three games of the set.
Not that Cleveland’s pitching was terrible (Indian arms allowed 15 runs over the 4-game series), but Seattle showed what timely hitting can do for a ballclub wanting to contend for a playoff spot. The Mariners offense isn’t a pleasant sight to watch by any means, but it is much easier to digest than the Indian bullpen.
On Sunday, a quality start by Aaron Laffey (3-2) was erased by Rafael Betancourt’s and Kerry Wood’s inability to close out the Mariner offense in late innings. The result? A 5-3 loss.
Tomo Ohka’s (0-4) start on Saturday lasted seven strong innings , but Jarrod Washburn scattered eight hits over 6 2/3 innings as the Indians seemingly lost the game on a two-run home run from Franklin Guttierez in the 4th inning.
Friday was certainly a preview of the previously mentioned games as Felix Hernandez (10-3) pitched eight innings of five-hit baseball, allowing only two runs. Grady Sizemore provided the few offensive sparks for Cleveland with a two hit performance, a double and a triple, during a 6-2 Mariner win.
The most appropriate image of the weekend was probably the last pitch of the series. With the tying run at the plate, Victor Martinez slammed a David Aardsma pitch to right field, only to see Ichiro launch himself up to rob Martinez of a sure hit, and possibly a game-tying home run.
The Indians were always close, but not close enough, against Seattle. The Mariners move to within four games of the Angels in the AL West, and remain in what is a crowded wild card hunt thus far.