Things looked bleak for Cleveland as the Indians (5-4) fell behind by seven runs in Seattle, but the Tribe made a valiant comeback and bested the Mariners (6-6), 9-8.
It didn’t take the Indians long to get on the board. Michael Brantley led off the game with a single and moved to second on his first stolen base of the year. Travis Hafner ripped former Indian Kevin Millwood‘s 0-2 fastball past Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager for an RBI double to give Cleveland a quick 1-0 lead.
The Mariners got on the board in the bottom of the third as John Jaso connected off of Justin Masterson to give Seattle a 2-1 lead. They scored again in the fourth on Brendan Ryan‘s bases-loaded walk, Jaso’s hit-by-pitch, and Chone Figgins‘ sacrifice fly before Ichiro and Justin Smoak‘s RBI singles made it 8-1 Mariners and chased Masterson from the game.
The Indians were down, but you better believe they weren’t out. Jack Hannahan led off the fifth inning with a double and scored two batters later when Michael Brantley reached on an error. Shin-Soo Choo came through with a two-run single and Carlos Santana followed with a three-run homer to end Millwood’s night early—all before Seattle recorded a single out. The Indians then loaded the bases with one out against relief pitcher Erasmo Ramirez and Jason Donald‘s sacrifice fly brought the game to an 8-8 tie.
All was quiet on the west coast until the top of the seventh, when Donald’s RBI single knocked in Hafner and gave the Tribe a 9-8 lead. The bullpen took care of it from there—though Chris Perez loaded the bases in a nerve-wracking ninth—and the Indians completed the impressive comeback.
The Good: The offense. The Indians have now scored 41 runs in their last four games, and anytime you cross the plate nine times in one night you’re doing something right. That Cleveland managed to come back from an 8-1 deficit makes it even more impressive—talk about magical.
Kudos are also due to the bullpen. Nick Hagadone, Rafael Perez, Joe Smith, Vinnie Pestano, and Chris Perez combined to throw 5.1 innings of shutout ball after the Mariners lit up Justin Masterson—though Chris Perez sure didn’t make it look easy in the ninth.
The Bad: Justin Masterson. The Indians’ ace was completely off his game Tuesday night, as he allowed eight runs (seven earned) on seven hits in just 3.2 innings of work. He induced only three swinging strikes out of 71 pitches and recorded just one strikeout. Worse still, he didn’t seem to have any of his usual command—he issued two consecutive bases-loaded free passes to Seattle’s No. 8 and 9 hitters in the fourth inning.
Every pitcher has bad days, but a major league pitcher needs to be able to keep his focus even when he’s in a tough spot. That he couldn’t find the plate when he got in a jam was a huge red flag.
The “Huh?”: With Asdrubal Cabrera on the bereavement list, Jason Kipnis was moved up to hit second in the lineup Tuesday night. There’s no problem with that—I’m all for moving him up in the order—but it’s a little odd considering Manny Acta has been pencilling him in as the No. 8 hitter this year. If you think Kipnis is one of the worst hitters in the lineup (as we are to infer from his normal place in the batting order), why would you want to give him the second-most plate appearances on the team?
Interesting Tidbit: The last time the Indians saw Millwood at Safeco Field was 2005. He was in a Cleveland uniform then, but he’s playing for the same manager: Eric Wedge. Seattle’s skipper that year was another former Tribe manager: Mike Hargrove.