Zach McAllister turned in a terrific start, but Hisashi Iwakuma and the Seattle bullpen shut down the Tribe’s bats and Vinnie Pestano gave up the lead in the eighth inning Wednesday afternoon as the Mariners beat Cleveland 3-1 to complete the three-game sweep at Safeco Field. The loss—the Tribe’s eight straight—drops the Indians to 54-70, 14.5 games behind in the AL Central.
Things didn’t get off to a very good start. After Iwakuma got out of a two-on, one-out jam in the top of the first unharmed, McAllister served up a solo home run to Michael Saunders as Seattle took a 1-0 lead after sending only two batters to the plate. But things settled down after that, and neither team got on the board again through the fifth inning.
The Indians’ bats finally woke up in the top of the sixth. After Asdrubal Cabrera‘s leadoff flyout, Shin-So Choo drew a walk and Carlos Santana moved him to second with a bloop single. Choo and Santana moved up on a bold double-steal as Michael Brantley struck out. In came Oliver Perez, and Casey Kotchman welcomed him with a weak dribbler to third base–Choo scored on what had to be the softest-hit RBI single I’ve ever seen to tie the game at 1-1. Cleveland threatened again in the eighth as Choo singled and Brantley walked to put two on with one out, but the Tribe failed to score.
After two innings of stalemate, the Mariners pulled ahead in the bottom of the eighth. Kyle Seager ripped a one-out double off Vinnie Pestano to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. Pestano then intentionally walked John Jaso and struck out Jesus Montero to make it two on and two out for Eric Thames, who delivered with a two-run double to put Seattle ahead. The Indians couldn’t do anything in the ninth as Seattle held on for a 3-1 win and a series sweep.
The Good: It was a great night for Zach McAllister. The 24-year-old right-hander threw six strong innings, giving up only one run on three hits. His four strikeouts and his three walks weren’t particularly good signs, but then again neither of those aspects of McAllister’s game are really worrisome.
Offensively it was Shin-Soo Choo and Casey Kotchman who led the charge. Choo went 2-for-3 with a walk and two stolen bases, while Kotchman went 2-for-2 with a walk and an RBI.
The Bad: Vinnie Pestano had an uncharacteristically bad night, giving up two runs in an outing for just the third time this year. Granted, it also happened a week ago, but you can’t stay mad at a guy who’s striking out more than a batter an inning and entered Wednesday with a 1.53 ERA.
Nay, the Indians’ real problem was their failure to bring baserunners home. Cleveland combined for eight hits and six walks against Seattle pitching Wednesday—that’s 14 baserunners, of which only one crossed the plate. At least they actually got some baserunners.
The “Huh?”: With one out in the top of the sixth and Michael Brantley at the plate with a 2-2 count, Shin-Soo Choo and Carlos Santana attempted a double steal. They ended up to be safe as Brantley struck out, but why even take the risk? If it was meant to be a hit-and-run it didn’t work because Brantley struck out, and if it was intended as a real steal attempt a good throw to third would have killed the rally that the Indians sorely needed.
Interesting Tidbit: The Indians are now 10-30 since July 8, meaning their winning percentage is equal to the 1962 New York Mets’ in a stretch spanning over six weeks.