The Cleveland Indians better start consistently beating last-place teams instead of playing like one if they plan to stay in the playoff race.
The Indians hope they have put a dismal stretch behind them as the basement-dwelling Seattle Mariners visit Jacobs Field for the first of seven meetings over the next 10 days.
Cleveland was a season-high 10 games above .500 on July 4, only to lose 11 of its next 13 games. In their first seven games following the All-Star break, the Indians were shut out three times and scored a total of 15 runs.
Though catching the AL Central-leading Chicago White Sox is unlikely, Cleveland remains among a large group of teams very much in the wild-card hunt.
“As bad as we’ve been playing, and as frustrating as it has been for all of us, we’re right there,” third baseman Aaron Boone said.
It would seem one factor currently in Cleveland’s favor is the schedule, with 13 of its next 19 games coming against last-place teams. That includes seven of its next 10 against Seattle, and three apiece against Kansas City and Tampa Bay.
The Indians, though, could only manage a four-game split this week with the Royals. However, they ended the series on a strong note, getting seven strong innings from Jake Westbrook and three-run homers from Jhonny Peralta and Victor Martinez in a 10-1 victory Thursday.
“We’ve been getting beat like a drum for a while,” said Boone, who was 2-for-4 with two RBIs. “Hopefully, this gets us going and gets us playing like I know we can.”
The Indians hope a 42-year-old left-hander doesn’t slow them down.
Jamie Moyer will take the mound seeking his third straight win. He’s 2-0 with a 2.82 ERA in three outings this month, walking four and striking out 14 in 22 1-3 innings.
Moyer was outstanding in his lone start this season against Cleveland, allowing a run and six hits over eight innings in a 9-1 victory on April 24.
However, Seattle received three poor starting pitching performances in suffering a three-game sweep at Toronto this week. The Mariners gave up 27 runs in the series, one shy of the total they allowed in winning six of their previous eight.
“It’s tough,” Seattle’s Jeremy Reed said. “Hopefully, we can turn this around.”