All good things must come to an end. The Indians’ bats couldn’t come to the rescue in Seattle Wednesday night as the Mariners (7-6) beat the Tribe (5-5), 4-1, to snap Cleveland’s four-game winning streak.
The Mariners got on the board early—eight pitches in, to be exact— as Chone Figgins took Tribe starter Derek Lowe deep to lead off the bottom of the first. Ichiro Suzuki followed with a solo shot of his own two batters later, and Jesus Montero drew a bases-loaded walk in the second to give Seattle an early 3-0 lead.
Cleveland answered the Mariners with a run in the third inning. Aaron Cunningham led off the inning with a double off the wall (he didn’t miss a home run by very much); he moved to third on Jason Donald‘s sacrifice bunt and scored on Jason Kipnis‘ sacrifice fly. That was the extent of the Tribe’s success against Seattle starter Jason Vargas.
Seattle scored again in the bottom of the fourth as Dustin Ackley‘s RBI single plated Brendan Ryan. The Mariners threatened again (and knocked Lowe out of the game) in the fifth inning and the Indians loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, but that was it for the scoring—both teams put up goose eggs for the last five innings and the Mariners tied the series with a 4-1 victory.
The Good: The bullpen. For the second straight game the Tribe’s relief corps shut Seattle down after the Mariners knocked Cleveland’s starter out of the game quite early. Jairo Asencio, Nick Hagadone, and Dan Wheeler combined to throw 3.2 shutout innings after Lowe hit the showers, limiting the Mariners to only one baserunner (Figgins worked a walk off of Asencio in the sixth) while racking up three strikeouts.
It’s been almost a week since an Indians starter has gone more than five innings, and Cleveland’s relievers have combined to throw 20 innings in their last four games. Good thing the Bullpen Mafia has our back.
The Bad: Everyone else, really. Derek Lowe gets the brunt of the blame after allowing four runs (all earned) while allowing eight hits and six walks in just 4.1 innings. You could tell he was in trouble from the start—that one of the worst hitters in the league took him deep in one of the best pitcher’s parks in baseball to start the game was a bad sign. That he gave up a bases-loaded walk to one of the least patient hitters in the game in the second also speaks volumes about how little command Lowe seemed to have Wednesday night.
The lineup also gets a dishonorable mention. There’s no real cause for alarm here—after all, the Indians had scored 41 runs in their previous four games—but when you get held to four hits something’s not right. If one run is all we could manage against Jason Vargas, I shudder to think about how we’ll fare tonight against Felix Hernandez.
The “Huh?”: Jason Donald isn’t the ideal leadoff hitter, but Manny Acta’s decision to hit him in the top spot looked like a stroke of genius compared to Seattle skipper Eric Wedge’s new-for-2012 strategy of putting Chone Figgins first in the lineup. Last year, Figgins posted a miserable .188/.241/.243 triple-slash; per wRC+ (34), it was the worst offensive performance of the millennium.
And yet Wedge is giving him more at-bats than anyone else one the team. Makes you grateful for Manny Acta, doesn’t it?
Interesting Tidbit: Astute fans will recall that Mariners pitcher Kevin Millwood spent a year with Cleveland in 2005. Only two players from the 2005 Indians are still with the team: Grady Sizemore and Travis Hafner.