Ubaldo Jimenez turned in a solid start and Cleveland started to stage a last-minute rally, but it was not enough as the Mariners beat the Tribe 5-3 Monday night in the opener of a three-game series in Seattle. The loss—the Indians’ sixth straight—knocks them down to 54-68, 12.5 games behind in the AL Central.
The game got off to a promising start as Jason Kipnis led off the top of the first with a screaming shot into the right field stands to put the Tribe up 1-0. Neither Jimenez nor Seattle starter Kevin Millwood gave up a run from then until the bottom of the third. With two outs, Dustin Ackley bounced a line drive off Jimenez’ glove for a single, setting the stage for Michael Saunders‘ two-run home run.
The Indians rallied back in the top of the sixth. Casey Kotchman drew a one-out walk and Ezequiel Carrera followed with a bunt single. Kipnis stepped to the plate and delivered again, coming through with a game-tying RBI single. Asdrubal Cabrera came through with a run-scoring hit of his own as Cleveland opened up a 3-2 lead.
But Seattle wasn’t done. Eric Thames took Jimenez yard for a solo shot in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game at 3-3, and the Mariners pulled ahead when Saunders connected for another two-run blast in the seventh, this time off Tony Sipp. The Indians stayed in the game and loaded the bases with one out in the top of the ninth, but Tom Wilhelmsen got Kipnis to hit into the game-ending double play as the Mariners held on for a 5-3 win.
The Good: Though it wasn’t an official quality start, Ubaldo Jimenez actually turned in a very good outing. The Mariners got to Jimenez for three runs (all earned) on six hits in 5.2 innings and he allowed two home runs, but he struck out eight while allowing only one walk. He actually looked kind of like the Ubaldo of old, if only for one night.
Jason Kipnis was the offensive MVP, going 2-for-5 with a home run and two RBI. Asdrubal Cabrera (2-for-4 with an RBI) and Ezequiel Carrera (2-for-4 with a double) also enjoyed multihit games.
The Bad: There isn’t actually a whole lot to pick on here. Three runs on eight hits and four walks isn’t a bad offensive showing at Safeco, and while I suppose our pitching staff’s proneness to giving up the long ball was on display there isn’t much to complain about on that end. It was a tough loss, but it was a good game.
The “Huh?”: Ezequiel Carrera is hitting .354. He’s got an .871 OPS and a 145 wRC+, plus he’s probably the fastest guy on the team. I know it’s a tiny sample size (50 plate appearances), but given how exciting he is as a player and how desperate this team is for an offensive spark, why is he being hidden in the No. 8 spot? Why not give him a chance to hit higher in the order? It’s not like the Indians have anything to lose at this point.
Interesting Tidbit: The Mariners hit three home runs at cavernous Safeco Field Monday night for the first time this year. The last time they accomplished the feat was August 15, 2011—more than a year ago.